Photo and Story by Eric Goodwin / Contributing Writer
People looking to adopt a pet, volunteer in the community or simply take the opportunity to love on some animals should look no further than Pet Adoption and Welfare Services or PAWS of Rutherford County.
PAWS takes in any stray or neglected domesticated animal that walks through the building’s doors or is found by the organization’s animal control agents.
The shelter is an open-intake shelter, meaning that if an animal from Rutherford County is brought to PAWS, the organization must accept the animal. According to a report on the PAWS website, 448 animals were accepted into the shelter in December alone.
Lindsay Frierson, 24, an MTSU graduate who works for PAWS, said the organization’s “number one goal is to adopt out animals.”
Adopting an animal is as easy as finding an animal that the adopter chooses, paying a small fee, checking the adopter’s house regulations and checking breed restrictions.
Potential pet owners looking for a dog may take the dogs outside at their own leisure.
“Our dog area is open to the public,” Frierson said. “(If) you go to the dog area, and you see a dog that you want, you can actually get them out, as long as they stay on a leash. We have two different play areas (where) people can get to know the dog.”
Animals are always coming and going at PAWS.
“We stay pretty full,” Frierson said. “We get 20 to 60 (animals) every day coming in. So at that pace, we don’t have much time to really get to know them.”
The rate at which animals enter PAWS means that the paid staff is constantly busy with tending to the animals’ necessities. This is why volunteers are always welcome, according to Frierson.
One-time volunteer orientations are every third Thursday of the month at 4 p.m.
A volunteer application can be found at paws.rutherfordcountytn.gov.
Walking the dogs is a major need at PAWS, Frierson said.
“Since we’re working staff, (and) we’re busy with other things, we can’t always just go and play with the dogs and walk them. Our volunteers come in and give them that exercise and get to know them,” she said.
Even if people wish to help but don’t want to work directly with the animals, volunteers can help the shelter by sorting donations, folding laundry and “anything you can think of,” Frierson said. We accept all kinds of donations from beds and blankets to food so there is always something that needs sorting. We are always grateful for the donations we receive because all of the dogs have different requirements, especially when it comes to food. Some dogs have a cast-iron stomach and can eat pretty much anything we give them, whereas some have quite sensitive stomachs. However, it’s not always possible to nip out and buy them a sensitive stomach recipe so it’s great when that gets donated. It saves us a lot of time and it means we can spend more of our time working on other tasks. Although they can’t tell us, they really appreciate the food they’re given and there’s never an empty bowl laying around.
“We have people who (work with) cats, who aren’t dog people, and people who just (work with) dogs, who aren’t cat people,” Frierson said.
In addition to volunteering at the shelter, PAWS hosts a variety of events year-round that students can participate in and attend. The “Fido Spring Fling,” hosted by the Nashville Paw Magazine, will take place at the Lane Agri-Park Community Center on April 9.
The event features “an egg hunt for dogs,” different vendors from around Middle Tennessee, pet services and a dog costume contest, Frierson said. Last year the Fido Spring Fling raised over $2,000 for the Beesley Animal Foundation and Rutherford County PAWS, according to the event website.
Entry into the event is free, but the dog costume contest and egg hunt requires $15 cash donation per dog.
PAWS is located at 285 John R. Rice Boulevard and can be contacted by calling 615-898-7740 or by emailing email@example.com.
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