PAWS expanding into Kingston, Lynwood Center

PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap is expanding - Marylou Zimmerman / Contributed
PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap is expanding
— image credit: Marylou Zimmerman / Contributed

KINGSTON — As you read this, some 12 adoption counselors and 40 foster homes are caring for and trying to find permanent homes for kittens and cats in Bainbridge and North Kitsap.

As you read this, someone is getting financial help so they can get medical care for their pet. A cat is being spayed or neutered. A feral cat is being caught and spayed or neutered, and after recovery will be released back into the wild.

Marylou Zimmerman, program director of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap, said that’s only part of the need in our region.

So, with the help of some friends, PAWS will soon expand its services from its 300-square-foot office on Miller Road on Bainbridge to a 900-square-foot site on Lindvog Road and Highway 104 in Kingston, and an additional site in Bainbridge’s Lynwood Center.

The Kingston site is owned by Carter Dotson, owner of Windermere Real Estate West Sound Kingston branch. The Lynwood Center site is being developed by John Jacobi, founder of Windermere. PAWS executive director Mark Hufford said the lease terms, which are being finalized, will likely allow PAWS to occupy both sites at the same cost as its 300-square-foot office on Miller Road.

Hufford said PAWS is raising money to complete the interiors; more information is available at A public open house is scheduled Nov. 9, 4-7 p.m., at the Kingston site, 26569 Lindvog Road, in the Windermere Real Estate building adjacent to Columbia Bank.

Hufford said PAWS will move to its Kingston Animal Welfare Center by the end of the year, and to Lynwood Center by the first quarter of 2013. At Kingston, PAWS will be able to accommodate an additional 300 cats a year. It will have space for public education programs and an outdoor area for dog adoption events. PAWS primarily handles cat adoptions now, but it operates a website for missing dogs and cats (  Dotson’s wife, Tori, is on the PAWS board of directors. Both, expectedly, are cat lovers. He expects the lease will be long-term — “something to last for years and years.”

The Kingston site gives PAWS a physical presence in North Kitsap, an area that it is serving on a growing basis. “It gives them excellent exposure. It’s right on 104. It’s a very visible location going into town. Hopefully, it will aid in getting more cats adopted,” Dotson said.

The Kingston site will individually ventilated enclosures, “which is a huge advance for managing the health of the animals,” Zimmerman said. PAWS will also be able to move its pet food bank out of a unheated, unlighted 8 by 8 storage unit.

PAWS — acronym for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society — was founded in 1975. It is not part of any of the 40 or so organizations in the U.S. using the PAWS acronym, Hufford said.

In its 300-square-foot office, adoption counselors work four-hour shifts and share the space with Hufford, Zimmerman, two paid adoption staff members and several kittens and cats. Most of the 200 kittens and 150 adult cats that PAWS will find homes for this year are kept in foster homes.

Besides pet adoption, PAWS also provides public education and outreach, low-cost spay and neuter services, and veterinary assistance. Last year, some 275 pets received veterinary care thanks to grants from PAWS; another 70 senior citizens received assistance for their pets. All told, in 2011 PAWS spent $18,000 on veterinary assistance, $5,000 on assistance for senior-citizen pet owners, and $30,000 for spay/neuter services.

Besides finding homes for kittens and cats, PAWS has helped rein in the populations of unwanted pets and feral cats in Bainbridge and North Kitsap.

“What we measure is how it impacts our adoption program,” Zimmerman said. “When I started with PAWS 15 years ago, every summer we would get 200 kittens, all from Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap. By August, we would have no homes left and we’d be sending kittens to the Kitsap Humane Society. Now, we get 200 kittens a year, but they’re from Bremerton, Gig Harbor and Seabeck.”

Regarding feral, or wild, cats, “We don’t have the big colonies we used to see,” Zimmerman said. “There used to be a feral colony of 30 to 40 cats behind Albertsons in Poulsbo Village. It’s down to two cats and they are both neutered. That took eight or nine years.”

Zimmerman expects the expansion will result in hundreds more cats and dogs finding loving homes every year, and hundreds of local families getting help with their pets.

“We will need more volunteers,” she said. And she expects PAWS will need to expand its network of foster care for cats that need to be worked with to be readied for adoption. “Almost 40 percent of the cats we adopt out are not considered [initially] adoptable in a shelter — they are older or have behavioral issues, or they are kittens from feral colonies.” PAWS also hopes to take in more animals from crowded shelters, she said.



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