Q&A: Lorna Valdez, North Beach PAWS

Lorna Valdez’ has loved animals all her life, and has been involved with North Beach PAWS from the very beginning. In 2002, the organization had its first meeting at her Ocean Shores home, where she’s lived since 1977. Lorna and her sister-in-law Debby Valdez are co-founders, and Lorna has served as president for the past decade. In 1980, Lorna opened her own business, Mikalor Cattery, where she bred, raised and showed Persian and Himalayan cats. Now Lorna works as a real estate broker for Windermere of Grays Harbor. She lives in Ocean Shores with her husband, Michael, a Shitzu named Bentley, a Russian cat named Foxie, and cockatiels Squirt and Pearl, who were recently rescued from the beach in Ocean City. Her daughter, Karlie, lives in Kirkland, where she has her own law practice.

What’s your favorite part about working with PAWS?

My favorite part of working with PAWS, is spending time with the animals at the shelter, and knowing we are diminishing the number of lost and homeless animals in our area, caring for them and finding them loving homes. They are spared from needless pain and suffering, from trying to fend for themselves on the street or in the wild, and avoid being euthanized by a kill shelter. North Beah PAWS is a non-kill shelter, and run 100 percent by volunteers. It’s heartwarming to see a rescued animal go to a great home, where it will be loved and treated with kindness, which is what they all deserve! I also enjoy helping with the fundraising activities, chairing special events, and being the volunteer coordinator for PAWS. You meet some pretty terrific people who are passionate about helping animals, and have very big hearts and wonderful helping hands. People working at the shelter are very friendly, caring people, coming from all walks of life. Their common bond is their love of animals.

What kind of volunteer opportunities are available through PAWS?

There’s a variety of ways to help. One option is animal shifts, working with shelter animals. My husband and I have been doing the Sunday evening shift since we opened the shelter. He does the dogs and I do the cats. It’s pure therapy, and we look forward to doing our shifts every week. It’s a wonderful experience to have one on one time with each of the animals. You can also help with medical transport, garage sales, collecting aluminum cans and donations, secretarial work, or even by donating baked goods or artwork.

(For a complete list of volunteer jobs and details, see this Q&A on www.thedailyworld.com.)

Do volunteers need a particular time commitment or is it more open?

Volunteers only need a time commitment if they have signed up for a specific shift or to work at an event. We only allow adults 18 years or older to do an animal shift by themselves. Teenagers are welcome to accompany their parents, and pre-teens need to be supervised by their parents and be pre-approved by the volunteer coordinator. Due to the unpredictable nature of cats and dogs, all volunteers need to be trained and use common sense when working with the animals to avoid injury. We require every volunteer to sign a Waiver of Liability, or have it signed by a parent, if they are working at the shelter. They also need to have a current tetanus shot.

How many animals does the shelter have on average at once?

We normally have about 5-6 dogs at the shelter, unless we have a batch of puppies, then it can go up to 10-12 dogs. We average about 20-25 cats at the cat shelter at any given time. We also oversee the adoption of dogs from the Stafford Creek Prison Program, which has between 10-14 dogs available for adoption every 10 weeks or so. They can also be seen on our website or on Petfinder.com. Those animals are cared for, socialized and trained by the inmates, prior to adoption, and are in high demand, usually spoken for prior to graduation from the program.

What needs do the animals and the shelter have for fall and winter?

Reliable volunteers who will show up, even when the weather is cold and nasty, or the power is out! We do have a generator, thank goodness! Because so many of our regular volunteers are snowbirds, we always need new volunteers to fill those winter shifts. Extra donations of canned wet food, especially Tyrrells Yellow Label, or Costco Lamb & Rice, or Chicken & Rice, or Friskies for the kitties. Lots of warm dog and cat beds or other bedding (washable blankets and comforters) are greatly appreciated. Dog treats (no rawhide please) and other toys are always welcome and enjoyed by the dogs. Cat litter, pellets, carpeted cat trees in good condition, and cat toys are great too! We do take gently used hand me downs as well as new items.

How much does it cost to keep PAWS running every year?

It costs us an average of $90,000-100,000 per year to run the shelter. Our vet bills alone can run between $4,000-5,000 per month and our monthly mortgage payment for the property is about $1,500 per month. We have ongoing maintenance and repairs of all of the buildings on the property, as well as physical improvements

Are there fundraising events coming up?

The next fundraising events coming up, are the Community Club Bazaar on Nov. 10, the Annual Dinner/Dance & Auction held at the Shilo on Nov. 17, and Fantasea By the Sea at the Convention Center on Nov. 23-25.

Tickets for the Dinner/Dance/Auction are $25 apiece, and are available at Windermere Ocean Shores, Kool Katz & Dawgs, Dolores & Fays, Curves & The Ocean Shores Chamber of Commerce. Seating is limited, so please buy your tickets early. We have been sold out the last few years.

How can people contribute to PAWS?

People can contribute to PAWS by sending a check to North Beach PAWS, and mailing it to P.O. Box 962, Ocean Shores WA 98569. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations are tax deductible and we can supply you with a receipt. If they wish to donate merchandise to our garage sales, please call LeRoy Mosher at 360-940-7378. It can usually be brought directly to the shelter on Saturdays, between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., or often times arrangements can be made for delivery or pick up other days during the week. We gladly accept cars, trucks, boats and trailers in working condition, which can be displayed and sold at the shelter property. Proper documentation is required for transfer of title. Donations can be designated to the spay/neuter program, improvements to the dog kennels or cat building or barn. You can also specify a portion of or all of your estate be left to North Beach PAWS in your will. For more information on how to do that, please call Attorney Mike Valdez at 360-289-2411.

You can also support PAWS by becoming a member. Annual membership fees are: Adult $20, Family $25, Junior $5, Business $50, Adult Lifetime $100, Family Lifetime $125, or Business Lifetime $250. Membership applications are on the back of our brochures, which are located at various locations throughout Ocean Shores and North Beach, or one can always be mailed to you or picked up at the shelter on Saturdays.

Make a donation to PAWS in memory of a pet or loved one. That info is on the back of our brochures or can be mailed with a note to PAWS.

What’s the adoption process like?

Once you have selected a cat or dog you would like to adopt, you need to contact an adoption coordinator. They will interview you, and discuss the history of that animal, any special medical needs or behavioral issues you will need to be aware of, whether or not the animal would be well-suited for a home with children or other pets, etc. Adoptions at the shelter are by appointment only throughout the week. Many times the adoption coordinators will receive more than one application for the same animal, so they make an effort to place the animal in the best home possible that will best meet its needs. Adoption fees can vary depending on the medical expenses which have been incurred on each animal, whether it was spayed or neutered, and the age of the animal.

Dogs average $75 - 150 and cats average $60 - 100. All animals adopted from our shelter are required to be spayed or neutered prior to adoption. For more information on adopting animals from North Beach PAWS, please call Kristine Tecco for cats at 360-289-9448 or Beth Mosher for dogs at 360-940-7378. For information on adopting dogs trained in the Stafford Creek Prison Program, please call Debby Valdez at 360-289-0586.

Animals at the shelter can always be visited on Saturdays during garage sales from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., or by appointment during the week by contacting one of the above coordinators.

Our shelter is located at 2222 Highway 109 in Hogan’s Corner. Our monthly membership meetings are open to the public, and held at the Canterbury Inn in Ocean Shores on the third Thursday at 7 p.m. every month. Everyone is welcome! You can also visit our web site at www.northbeachpaws.org for more information. See our adoptable pets on www.petfinder.com