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[Pet Animal Welfare Society]

Frequently Asked Questions - check the latest updates! Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions at PAWS. If you don't find what you are looking for, please feel free to contact us.

Topics for Frequently Asked Questions covered in this section include:

Q: Can PAWS take my pet?

A:PAWS makes every effort to help as many pets as we can, but we have limited space and limited funds. As a No-Kill shelter, we can only accept new pets as we place our current residents, so please give us as much advance notice as possible if you are looking to place your pet on our waiting list. PAWS only accepts dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. If you have a pet of another species you are seeking to place, please contact us and we will attempt to refer you to other rescue groups that may be able to help.

We also recommend that you contact as many groups as possible within your area as another group may be able to help you sooner than we can. Please see these directories of dog rescues and cat rescues throughout Connecticut and the surrounding states.

Please Note: Do not simply show up at the shelter with a pet that you need to place. We do not like to turn people or pets away, but all incoming pets must be accepted and scheduled in advance. We have a waiting list, and we simply do not have the room to take in pets without prior arrangements.

On average, it costs PAWS more than $500 to care for each pet, from the time of intake, to the time the pet gets adopted. Our adoption fees do not even begin to cover these expenses and as such we must request a donation for each pet released to PAWS.

Minimum Surrender Fees:

  • Dog - $210
  • Cat - $100

    For owners who are releasing their pets, an additional donation to offset the costs associated with elderly or ill pets is greatly appreciated.

    Please Note: Reduced surrender fees may be available for those with special circumstances.

  • How to Surrender a Cat:

    All cats must be up to date on appropriate vaccinations including rabies and distemper. In addition, cats must have a negative result on a feline leukemia/combo test within 3 months of coming to the shelter.

    We cannot accept feral cats but we can direct you to resources for low cost spaying or neutering.

  • How to Surrender a Dog:

    All dogs must be up to date on appropriate vaccinations including rabies and distemper. We will schedule an appointment for you to bring your dog in for an evaluation. We may or may not accept the dog into the shelter at that time, depending on kennel space. Your dog must have proof of a rabies vaccine at the time of the evaluation.

    Please Note: By law, we cannot take in stray dogs. If you find a stray dog, please call your local animal control office.

    Note about placing young puppies: If your dog has given birth to puppies, or you have a young puppy you need to place, please call us at (203)750-9572 or send an email as soon as possible.

    To request that your pet be placed on our Intake Waiting List
    Please complete and submit either the Cat Intake Questionnaire (PAWS_Cat_Intake_Questionnaire.doc / PAWS_Cat_Intake_Questionnaire.pdf) or the Dog Intake Questionnaire(PAWS_Dog_Intake_Questionnaire.doc / PAWS_Dog_Intake_Questionnaire.pdf) and follow the included instructions for submission of the form.

    Note well: Completion of the form does not guarantee that PAWS will be able to take your pet. When a space becomes available for an accepted pet, you will be contacted to schedule an "Intake Appointment". You will be asked to have your veterinarian fax records to PAWS prior to the Intake Appointment.

    Our Organization, the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has only one location in Norwalk, CT. Our PAWS is not affiliated with any other group that uses the P.A.W.S. acronym. We are only able to accept pets from Fairfield County. If you need referral to shelters and humane societies in your own community, we recommend you visit www.petfinder.com where you can search for shelters and rescue groups by entering your zip code.

    Please read the following topic, "How can I find a new home for my pet?"

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    Q: How can I find a new home for my pet?

    A:Here are some suggestions if you seek other options for rehoming your pet:

    PAWS can post a photo and description of your pet, along with your contact information, on our website, and on our Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet sites. There is a $15 charge for this service. Please email us the photo and description of your pet along with your contact info. Please send a check in the amount of $15 made out to PAWS to: PAWS, 504 Main Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851 or you can drop this off at our shelter. Be sure to include the following information:

    1. Name of Pet
    2. Breed
    3. Age
    4. Whether pet is spayed/neutered
    5. Why the pet needs to be rehomed
    6. Any special needs (e.g., home with no other pets, adult-only home, stay-at-home owner, health issues or medication needs, etc.)
    7. List some of the pets best qualities
    8. List any issues that will require work or patience
    9. Be sure to provide your name, phone number, and e-mail address, which will be included in the posting

    Please be aware that PAWS will have no involvement or responsibility in screening potential adopters who contact you.

    Independently advertise your pet in as many locations as possible. Make a flyer, containing a good photo of your pet Post the flyer on bulletin boards in stores, libraries, places of worship, veterinary hospitals, boarding facilities, grooming salons, etc.

    Please be certain that your dog or cat has been spayed or neutered prior to making it available for adoption. Not only will this be beneficial to the health of your pet, but it will make it far less likely that your pet will be adopted by someone who has harmful intentions. Here is a link for suggested questions to ask someone who is interested in adopting your pet: TenQuestions.pdf

    Contact other shelters and rescue groups. If there is no space available, as is often the case, ask if your pet can be placed on a waiting list. To find listings of other groups, click on Cat Rescue Groups/Shelters or Dog Rescue Groups/Shelters.

    Be sure to check with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. to find out if someone might be interested in providing a home to your pet. If you cannot find a permanent home for your pet, is there someone who can provide a temporary home, while your pet is waiting to be admitted to a shelter?

    Under no circumstance should you leave your pet behind when you move; nor should you otherwise abandon it. Abandoning a pet is cruel and against the law. If you have a true emergency and have not had success in finding a new home for your pet, please contact your local Animal Control facility. In some municipalities, Animal Control facilities accept owner-surrendered dogs and/or owner-surrendered cats, while some do not.

    If you are seeking to rehome your pet because the pet is ill, or incontinent, or has exhibited behavioral problems, please be honest about this when discussing your pet with shelter representatives or potential adopters. If you are seeking to place your cat because it has been urinating outside of the litter box, please be honest about this. We might be able to offer some suggestions. If your dog has become aggressive with a child in your home, let us know this. Failure to disclose this information can result in future heartache both for other people and for your pet.

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    Q: Can I volunteer at PAWS?

    A: PAWS is always in need of volunteers!

    All new volunteers must complete the Volunteer Application and attend an orientation session which are scheduled by appointment. For those interested in working with dogs, you must also attend a dog training class after your initial orientation. If you have any questions or would like to find out about an upcoming volunteer orientation session, please contact us.

    Volunteer Opportunities available at PAWS include, but are not limited to:

  • Animal Care and Socialization
  • Foster Care Program
  • Adoption Counseling
  • Office Administration
  • Fundraising

    PLEASE NOTE: To work directly with the animals in the shelter, volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Volunteers under the age of 18 are always needed for off-site projects such as food drives, can drives, hanging flyers, etc.

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    Q: Do you need "foster" homes?

    A: PAWS is always seeking volunteers who are willing to provide foster homes for our animals when the need arises. Examples of animals that may need fostering include young motherless kittens who need to be bottlefed, kittens or puppies who are too young to be housed at the shelter, dogs or cats recovering from illness or injury, and dogs or cats who would benefit from spending time in a home. Some foster situations will be short-term, and can range from anywhere between overnight or weekend care, to care lasting for several weeks. Requirements for fostering a PAWS animal or a litter of animals will vary depending upon the particular animal’s needs. If you are interested in becoming a PAWS foster parent, please complete and submit our Volunteer Application.

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    Q: Can I adopt a specific breed of dog from PAWS?

    A: PAWS often has purebred dogs available for adoption, as do many other shelters and rescue groups. If we do not currently have the type of dog in which you are interested, we invite you to complete our Dog Adoption Application and let us know what breed of dog you seek to adopt. We will place your Application in our Breed Request file and contact you if we get a dog of that breed that we think you would like to meet.

    We also recommend that you visit http://www.petfinder.com, an online database that allows you to search for adoptable pets by entering your zip code and the criteria you seek, including breed. And another option is to contact a “Breed Rescue Group” for the breed in which you are interested. You can perform this search on line by entering the breed and the word “rescue”. For example, you can enter “Rottweiler Rescue” or “Beagle Rescue” on your search engine.:

    There are many wonderful purebred and mixed breed dogs awaiting new homes. With millions of dogs being put to death in shelters each year in our Country, we urge you to adopt, rather than support the practices of breeders, pet stores, and puppy mills. For more information about stores that sell puppies and puppy mills, please go to http://www.savepuppymilldogs.com.

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    Q: Do you offer low cost spay/neutering?

    A:The importance of spaying and neutering all companion animals cannot be stressed enough! It’s our best weapon in the fight to stop the destruction of the millions of unwanted dogs and cats that are born every year in our Country AND there are multiple health benefits for pets that have been spayed/neutered.

    PAWS does not have a program to spay/neuter owned pets. However, there are several Organizations that offer low-cost spay/neuter options.Some include:

  • Friends of Animals: 1 800-321-PETS
  • SPAY-USA: 1 888-PETS911
  • HOPE Clinic: 203 437-7955
  • TEAM mobile spay/neuter clinic for cats: 1 888 367-8326
  • SNIP (Pit Bull Terrier spay/neuter program): 203 977-4437
  • Feral Care (Trap/Neuter/Return program for feral cats) contact: info@feralcare.com
  • ASPCAspay.org: Has a low-cost s/n database

    a) FRIENDS OF ANIMALS: You may visit the FoA web site at Friends of Animals or call them at 1-800-321-PETS.They offer low cost spay/neuter certificates and they can give you a list of vets in your area who accept them. You can order certificates on line at the above web site. PLEASE NOTE: All pets brought in through Friends of Animals MUST have a current rabies vaccine. If the pet does not have one, you can call Luv-A-Pet at (508) 616-8765 and ask for information on a low cost vaccine clinic near you. If the pet is brought to the vet without vaccines, there will be an additional charge for those shots to be administered.

    b) SPAY-USA: You may visit the Spay-USA web site at Spay USA or call them at (800) 248-SPAY. They offer low cost spay/neuter certificates and they can give you a list of vets in your area who accept them. PLEASE NOTE: All pets brought in through Spay USA MUST have a current rabies vaccine. If the pet does not have one, you can call Luv-A-Pet at (508) 616-8765 and ask for information on a low cost vaccine clinic near you. If the pet is brought to the vet without vaccines, there will be an additional charge for those shots to be administered.

    c) HOPE Clinic: Visit the HOPE CLinic website at HOPE Clinic or call them at 203-437-7955. Their mission is simple - to end the tragedy of cat and dog overpopulation, homelessness, and euthanasia in Connecticut. They fulfill their mission by providing high quality spay/neuter services while targeting the most prolific populations: strays, ferals, and unaltered pets whose owners do not have access to veterinary care.

    d) TEAM mobile spay/neuter clinic. You may visit TEAM's web site at TEAM - Tait's Every Animal Matters or call them at 1-888-367-8326. This is a mobile clinic (for cats only) so you have to call them to find out where they will be within each town. Their fees are very reasonable - for only $57 you can have a cat spayed/neutered, get a brief vet exam, vaccines (rabies, distemper, upper/lower respiratory infection), nail trim, and ear mite treatment.

    e) Check out ASPCAspay.org for a comprehensive and searchable database designed to help you find low-cost spay/neuter programs in your community.

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    Q: What should I do if there's a stray cat in my yard?

    A: There are literally millions of "feral" (wild) and stray cats in the USA. They come from various sources: cats that were dumped by their owners, cats that maybe got out of the house when they weren't supposed to and have gotten lost and cats that have been born outside and are the kittens of stray cats. Feral and stray cats have varying degrees of friendliness to humans. A cat that was once owned may still be friendly to people and could be placed into a new home. Other cats may be nervous around people, but with some work can be rehabilitated. Yet others are completely wild and can never be house pets. Download our Feral or Stray Cat Packet for some excellent information of how you can help feral or stray cats in your area and for information on how to manage a colony of feral cats.

    If you have a completely wild cat hanging around your home or office, the best that we are going to be able to offer you is to provide a trap to catch the cat in. One captured, we can only offer information for feral spay/neuter options in the area (see below). After that, you will have to re-release the cat back to the area where it came from. While this may sound cruel, as long as the cat has a food source and a place for shelter, they can make a life for themselves. These cats cannot be socialized to humans and the only other alternative for them is to spend the rest of their lives living in terror in a cage or being taken to a humane society or vet and having them destroyed. None of these options are perfect, but the trap/neuter/release option at least gives them their life and stops the cycle of endless breeding which only bring more kittens into the same fate.

    Also, please understand that since our resources are limited, we must focus on the strays/ferals right here in our own "backyard" first. The need is so great and we cannot cover all areas. We are usually not able to accommodate strays/ferals from outside the Fairfield County area. We can try to assist you in finding a rescue group closer to the town in which you live. You can also print out a list of cat rescue agencies that are throughout Connecticut. Please understand that we try to keep this list as updated as possible, but groups come and go. Click here for a list of cat rescue groups throughout Connecticut.

    ONE NOTE: Please do NOT just come to PAWS with a stray cat that you want us to evaluate! We must schedule all appointments in advance. Additionally, we have a limited number of cages available to us and we cannot accept cats without prior knowledge of them coming to us.

    Spay/Neuter Options for Feral and Stray Cats:

    HOPE Clinic: 203 437-7955
    Feral Care (Trap/Neuter/Return program for feral cats contact: info@feralcare.com

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    Q: I found a stray dog. What should I do?

    A: PAWS is cannot accept stray dogs. If you have found a dog, you must report this immediately to the municipal shelter in the town or city in which the dog was found. However, we would be happy to take a description of the dog so we can add the dog to our Lost & Found Book. Please contact us by phone or e-mail giving us a description of the dog (breed, size, color, gender), any identifying features (collar, scars), the location where the dog was seen, and your contact information.

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    Q: Can you help if I've lost or found a pet?

    A: If you have lost or found a pet, please go to our "Lost & Found" section on our Links Page.

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    Q: Who offers financial assistance for medical expenses?

    A: Medical care for pets care become quite costly especially if there is an emergency or your pet requires long term medical care. If you need financial assistance to help pay for your pet's medical expenses, please download our Financial Aid Packet for financial aid resources.

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    Q: What can I do if my neighbor is abusing/neglecting their pet?

    A: We appreciate your concern, but as a private organization, PAWS is not authorized to investigate animal abuse or neglect and we do not have any legal right to seize animals from abusive or neglectful situations. If you see instances of abuse or neglect, or you suspect that an animal is being abused or neglected, please contact the Animal Control Division of your local municipal shelter or police department. They will investigate the situation, and take measures in accordance with the law.

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    Q: Do you do "long-distance" adoptions?

    A: PAWS will only consider adoption applications from applicants who reside within a reasonable driving distance of our facility here in Norwalk, Connecticut.

    We also feel that it is very important that anyone interested in adopting an animal spend a good deal of time interacting with that animal before making the decision to adopt. Adopting a pet is a long-term commitment and a decision that cannot be made simply by looking at a photo and reading a description.

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    Q: I'd like to help. How can I best make a donation?

    A: PAWS can use donations of many different types of items, but to be honest, our biggest need is money. We are a non-profit organization and only survive by the generosity of private donations. We do not receive any funding from any city, state or federal agency. The medical care and boarding-related expenses for the pets are our biggest drain of funds. If you would like to make a monetary donation you can either mail a check to:

    504 Main Ave
    Norwalk, CT 06851

    Or, you can donate online through Netword for Good, a secure donation portal. Click on the icon below. Please Note: Minimum online donation amount is $10.00.


    If you would like your donation to be used for a specific function, please note it on your check. We have the following programs:
    1) Spay/Neuter Fund (helps provide low cost spay/neuter to low income families and the elderly)
    2) Cosmo Fund (helps pay for medical expenses for very sick or injured pets)
    3) Operating Fund (helps us pay for the day to day expenses - food, boarding, vaccines, etc. for the pets in our care).

    In addition to donations of money, we are also in need of the following items:


    • Friskies Cat Food - canned ground or pate style
    • Pedigree Dog Food - canned
    • Other canned dog food
    • Clay Cat Litter (non clumping type)
    • Yesterday's News Cat Litter
    • KMR Kitten Formula - powdered or canned
    • PetCo Gift Cards (a HUGE help when we need to run out to the store for something we ran out of!)
    • Cat scratching posts and Large cat trees
    • NutroMax/Max Cat Kitten Food - canned
    • Human baby food - jars of chicken or turkey (no onion or garlic please)
    • Rice Cereal for human babies
    • Cardboard flats (like the type a case of cat food or a case of beer comes in - we use as disposable litter boxes for sick cats)
    • Training collars-all sizes (also known as "choke" collars)
    • Heating pads
    • Pooper scooper bags
    • Cat or Dog toys
    • 6" paper plates


    • EXTRA LARGE Garbage bags
    • Paper towels - rolls and "c-fold" type
    • Laundry Detergent and Bleach
    • Dishwasher powder and Liquid dish soap
    • Sponges, liquid hand soap and Purrell (hand sanitizers)
    • Syringes
    • 1st Class Stamps and #10 white envelopes
    • White copier paper
    • Letter size manilla folders
    • Hewlett Packard Deskjet Printer Cartridge #20
    • Canon E40 Copier Toner Cartridge
    • Staples Gift Cards (a HUGE help for buying office supplies that aren’t donated!)
    • Fabric remnants (especially animal prints, fleece or terry cloth. We use the fabric to make toys for the pets as well as to sell on our web site)
    • Polyester stuffing (for the toys we make for the pets and to sell)
    • Leftover medications (I know. It sounds weird. But if you have a pet that was on a medication such as Batryl or Ringers lactate and you have some left over, we could use it. Shelter pets come down with the same illnesses as owned pets and as you know purchasing their medications can be very costly. Please be sure to check the expiration date on any medications before you donate them)

    If you would like to donate any of these items, please call PAWS at (203) 750-9572. Or bring them down on Mon. thru Wed. from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Thurs & Fri from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm or Sat. from 12 noon to 4:00 pm

    We are in need of the following services from our community:

    • PHOTO COPYING and PHOTO PRINTING: Do you work in an office that might allow you to use their copier? We put together adoption folders for people who adopt pets from PAWS as well as photos for our "Sponsor A Pet" program, make bulletin boards &and photo albums to bring to stores & event so people can see all our great pets.
    • CANISTER PLACEMENT: Some local businesses have been kind enough to allow us to place a canister at their register counter. These small, well-made canisters are for collecting donations from customers. The canister is just placed on the counter and people can make donations if they wish. We are not asking anyone to push our cause or solicit donations. If you work at (or perhaps own) a store that has would be willing to "host" a canister, please let us know. A PAWS volunteer will bring the canister to you & will be responsible for checking it on a regular basis. We have found that high traffic stores that do a lot of cash business are the most successful. Stores like the deli, ice cream stores, bagel/coffee shops and of course, places that sell pet supplies have the most luck. A well-placed canister can make almost $1000 per year!
    • GROOMING: Some of our pets coming in to us heavily matted or have overgrown coats. Are you a groomer? Can you donate your time and grooming facility to help us make our pets look their best? Pets that are clean and well groomed make a much better impression. The PAWS volunteers can bathe the pets without any problem, but we are not real handy when it comes to professional "cuts" and the pets can end up looking like they're having a REAL bad hair day!
    • SELLING PAWS MERCHANDISE: Here's that statement again - Do you work at (or perhaps own) a store that would be willing to sell PAWS merchandise? We have a small selection of items that include t-shirts, cat and dog toys and keychains. We are always looking for additional outlets in which to sell these items.
    • PRINTING SERVICES: We print and mail out our newsletter twice a year. It would save us several thousand dollars a year if a local printer would be willing to handle the printing for free.

    If you can offer assistance in any of these areas, please call PAWS at (203) 750-9572 and leave a message for Alexis detailing what services you are offering.

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    Q: I don't live near Norwalk, CT. Does PAWS have a shelter in my state?

    A: Our Organization, the Pet Animal Welfare Society, has only one location, and that is here in Norwalk, CT. There are many other groups in various States throughout the Country that use the PAWS acronym, but those groups are not affiliated with our Organization. To find a shelter, rescue, or humane society near your home town, visit www.petfinder.com, where you can search for groups by entering your zip code or City and State.

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    Q: Do you do low cost vaccines?

    A: PAWS does not provide vaccinations or veterinary services to community animals. A company called Luv-My-Pet offers low-cost vaccination clinics, as well as low-cost heartworm testing, FIV/FeLV testing, and deworming services, at various Petco locations. You can find out more about Luv-My-Pet by calling 860 793-9162 or by contacting your local Petco.

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    Q: Do you take in injured or orphaned wildlife?

    A: PAWS does not accept or rehabilitate injured or orphaned wildlife. This is a speciality and we simply do not have the expertise to be able to help these animals.

    If you come across wildlife that appears to be injured or orphaned, please go to Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. On this website you will find a great wealth of useful information including how to handle injured wildlife, what to do if you think you've found orphaned wildlife, phone numbers for wildlife rehabilitators and much more.

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