Our New Normal - Dakin's P.A.W.S. Program
by Danielle Cookish
Over the last year or two, you may have noticed something very different about Dakin as you walked our adoption centers or browsed our website. More and more kennels are empty. The free-roaming cat rooms seem quiet. Where are the animals?
We get this question a lot, and the answer isn’t simple.
While it's true that at any given time we have a number of animals that are either residing in medical wards while being treated (and not visible to adopters) or in foster care, people still notice fewer animals ready to go home.
In the past, the biggest challenge for New England animal shelters was finding ways to manage the massive overpopulation of animals with nowhere to go. This population included stray animals, feral cats who were born and live outside, and pets who could no longer be cared for by their people. Dakin and many other shelters spent the majority of their resources on the animals’ basic care, husbandry and routine veterinary care.
In the last few years, we’ve been witnessing a massive shift in the needs of animals coming through our doors. General husbandry and preparing animals for adoption is still a vital part of our regular care for every animal. However, our primary function to best meet the needs of animals with complex cases has changed. We are now seeing more and more animals with complicated medical and behavioral needs that require extraordinary efforts to create a successful path to adoption.
Why the shift?
A number of factors have contributed to these changes in adoptable animal availability and shelter populations.
- More people are looking to adopt than ever before
- Widespread spay/neuter availability and affordability has significantly decreased unwanted litters
- As the overpopulation of animals begins to decline in other places, animal transports from southern states no longer need to transfer as many animals this far north to place them in homes.
- The role of animals in our society has shifted and pets are more often regarded as family members. In turn, more animals are microchipped and have identification on their collars, making it much easier to quickly reunite a found pet with their people instead of coming to a shelter.
With those animals now entering the shelter in vastly smaller numbers, our core population is now the most vulnerable, most complicated and most in-need who have no other options. As Dakin continues to evolve to meet the needs of pets and people in the community, we have created the Program for Animal Wellness (P.A.W.S.).
P.A.W.S. specifically provides for the animals in our care and treats complex cases. Our experienced medical and behavioral teams create treatment plans to address each animal’s unique situation and needs. Our teams use a patient-centered, individualized approach to treat animals. Because of your ongoing support, P.A.W.S. can focus on helping animals in need find refuge, preventing suffering, providing compassionate euthanasia when it’s the most humane option, and offering animals life-saving treatment.
Families come to Dakin not only because their animal is in distress but also because they are seeking a way forward when out of options and to do what is best for that animal. Dakin is honored to be entrusted with their lives, care and future.
In its 50 years, Dakin has become more than an adoption center, but a trusted animal resource center for pets and people in need. Especially in times of transition, your support paves the way for vulnerable animals with nowhere else to go and allows Dakin to say “yes” when they need you most.