History of PAWS

Centre County PAWS was founded in December 1980 by 8 founding members. For the first 15 years, these volunteer founders worked out of their homes to rehome cats and kittens. PAWS developed relationships with many vet practices to provide free or low-cost medical care for the cats. Fred and Lee Metzger of Metzger Animal Hospital generously provided a 850 square foot building next to his practice for housing small numbers of cats and for showing adoptable fosters on weekends.

After 10 years in the pre-fabricated building next to Metzger Animal Hospital, it became clear that PAWS needed more space for the growing number of animals in their care. A drive was initiated to raise money for building a larger building, and UAJA provided land for PAWS to build on. The resulting building (which PAWS still inhabits) is 13,500 square feet. For comparison - the original building was only the size of the current lobby. The new building allowed PAWS to begin housing dogs in addition to cats, though PAWS still maintains a strong and vital foster network to further increase the number of animals we can help.

In addition to growing in building size, PAWS has grown its outreach programs, particularly its Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), which allows us to provide financial help to help get both owned animals and community cats spayed or neutered. In SNAP’s first year, PAWS would give out about $1,000 per year in assistance. In 2021, PAWS provided over $80,000 to Centre County residents for spay/neuter assistance.

In 2007, PAWS hired its first paid employee, Lisa Bahr, who now serves as Executive Director overseeing an organization of over 20 staff members and hundreds of volunteers. PAWS continues to be a premier resource for pet adoption and animal assistance in Centre County. In 2020, PAWS celebrated its 40th Anniversary.