Perry Animal Welfare Society


P.A.W.S. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation dedicated
to the
welfare of small animals of Perry County, MO



Article from March 15, 2018 Perryville News



After decade run, P.A.W.S. disbands


After 10 years, the Perry Animal Welfare Society
has announced that it will no longer be in operation.

Last Tuesday, the Perry Animal Welfare Society — or “P.A.W.S”, as it
is better known — announced that the organization will dissolve after
10 years successful operation.

The volunteer-driven society was established in 2007 as a nonprofit
organization dedicated to helping reduce the number of homeless
animals by financially assisting pet owners with the spaying and
neutering process.

“Originally, I think roughly 46 members of the community got
together and decided to try to address the issue of the abandoned
dogs and cats in various places in the county,” said Rhonda
Henderson, who has been with the organization since 2007, as well as
president for the past three years. “They started meeting and doing

According to Henderson, the group was loosely formed in 2006. When
Henderson joined, she helped them adopt their IRS status as a
nonprofit group.

“We just started fundraising and trying to work with the city and
county, trying to figure out options, figure out what is lacking,” said
Henderson. “The city is struggling with an aging facility with limited
personnel, and the county does not have a facility but has contact
with the humane society in Cape. We kind of started being the
networking place.”

P.A.W.S. launched the spay and neuter program in 2008, and has
helped over 2,000 pet owners get their pets fixed. Henderson
reported that the organization has raised and spent somewhere
between $60,000 and $70,000 on the project.

Henderson explained that a cat can have anywhere from 1-8 kittens
per litter, and 2-3 litters per year.

The easiest solution to the overpopulation is prevention,” said

But the procedure is about more than just reducing numbers.

By getting their animal fixed, it reduced some other behavior issues,
and they kept the dog or cat,” said Henderson. “They were even
healthier because of it.”

Over the years, P.A.W.S. has also donated to local food banks of pet
products and assisted pet owners with pet training and behavior.
“At the beginning, it was merely educating people,” said Henderson.
“We’ve seen such a change in how pets are treated, and the options
that are in town.”

Although the society has had a successful run, peaking in 2010 with
approximately 56 due-paying members, a gradual decline in
participation and interest has led to the group’s dissolution.
“It does take a lot of volunteers to make something like this happen
and continue,” said Henderson. “The primary issue is the lack of
active members and volunteers to help keep it going. Most of my
members are 60-plus, so the technology kind of superseded them. In
this day and age, you need a good mix of people. Everybody views it
as somebody else’s problem. Where does it end?”

As for the future of Perry County’s needs for an established animal
control organization and facility, Henderson was positive about the
impact of P.A.W.S. during its decade-long run.
“Maybe Perryville has evolved around the idea of what is pet
ownership,” said Henderson. “These are more than just animals on
the farm, they are members of the family. Maybe [our] job is done here.”

The society was the winner of the pet-friendly spay and neuter
program for the Department of Agriculture for three years, according
to Henderson, and has really started the conversation within the
community. She hopes that that conversation will continue.
“P.A.W.S. take was always that it’s not the responsibility of 46 people
to fix the problem. We needed support from us, from the city, and
from the county,” said Henderson. “The community support is there;
it’s just hard to stay organized and stay focused on all the areas that
need to be focused on.

It’s been a great organization; I really thank the community for the support.

If people want to … reinvigorate us, we would certainly be thrilled
about that. I would love for people to step up and help out; we would
never discourage that at all.”