The Paradise Animal Shelter Rescues Our Furry Friends

There’s a paradise in Paradise for animals too—and it’s called the Paradise Animal Shelter (PAS). PAS takes in dogs, cats, and other animals to find them better lives in a loving home.

“Our goal here is to care for the animals and to give them a better quality of life,” says Mollie St John, Interim Supervisor for Animal Control & Shelter. “From wherever they started, we want to give them that chance to have a home again.”

Many more animals may soon have that chance: Paradise Animal Shelter may be expanding!

In operation for nearly forty years, the shelter is ready for an update to modernize the facility and allow for a greater number of animals and more space for them to move around. Plans include an expanded cat room with a catio for roaming and socializing, more kennels for dogs, and spaces for the other creatures that come through the shelter doors.

The shelter is currently in the planning stages, consulting with architects and contractors to conceptualize the remodel process. Largescale fundraising will come next, with the Paradise Animal Shelter Helpers (PASH) already in the initial outreach. This is just one more step in rebuilding Paradise!

From humble beginnings…

The Paradise Animal Shelter has come a long way since it first opened. In 1985, the Humane Society in Paradise unexpectedly pulled funding, leaving the Town to create its own shelter facilities. The shelter opened its doors on December 12, 1985, and hasn’t looked back. 

Shortly after the shelter opened, two local women decided to help collect blankets for the dogs. After realizing there was no laundry facility at the shelter, the women began taking dirty blankets and washing them in their own homes, effectively becoming the first volunteers of the Paradise Animal Shelter Helpers (PASH). Over the next few years, the number of volunteers increased, and PASH became a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the animals at Paradise Animal Shelter.

…To where they are now

PAS staff have dedicated so much time to making the shelter what it is today. Today, employees include St John, Animal Control Officer Andrew Anaya, office assistant Shirley Kamm, and two part-time shelter assistants in a partnership with Alliance for Workforce Development (AFWD). Otherwise, they rely entirely on volunteer support to keep the shelter running and the animals cared for and content.

Paradise Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter

For the last 9 years, the shelter has had a no-kill policy, with the goal of having 90% of animals that come into the shelter find new homes, foster or other shelter placements, or a happy return to their owners. This policy allows animals to stay at the shelter as long as needed while staff work diligently to find good homes for all of them. They currently take in animals of all kinds to the capacity possible and work with fosters when more room is needed. 

Dogs and cats are the most common visitors to the shelter, with 19 kennels for dogs that can house between 20-30 dogs. Cats, however, don’t have as much space, and stray cats need to be injured or ill in order for the shelter to keep them. Otherwise, cats can roam freely in Paradise. Paradise Animal Shelter can refer to local resources to help with the strays. Currently, the has eight single housing units for felines, though the expansion will give them more room. After the remodel, they’ll be living a life of luxury, with a catio that lets them go outside while remaining in the safety of the shelter facility.

Aside from dogs and cats, they’ve accepted rats, African tortoises, peacocks, chickens, roosters, parrots, goats, sheep, and pigs. People have even sent them horses and llamas, but PAS finds someone else to house them—they’re just a little too large to keep at the shelter. If they get wildlife—which does happen—Paradise Animal Shelter coordinates with local rescue organizations for proper housing and care.

PAS staff member duties

There’s never a dull day at PAS, especially with all the adorable furry friends they get to take care of. However, staff members don’t just sit around and cuddle with animals all day—they have to do actual work too!

And by “actual work,” we mean cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. Animals can’t really clean up after themselves, but luckily, staff members are there to help them out!

They also feed the animals breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Employees check each animal for illness, take them out to play, and respond to calls. Team members also handle stray, deceased, or injured animals, as well as attacks and abuse cases.

How they fundraise

In addition to funding through the Town of Paradise, the Paradise Animal Shelter receives donations from the public, funding from taxes like Measure N, Measure V, and dog license sales through the Town. PASH funds 90% of medical care, and community support also helps raise donations.

“We really appreciate donations,” says St John. “They’re one of the biggest ways we can keep costs lower for adoptions to the public.”

In addition to financial help, people can also donate goods. For example, Paradise Animal Shelter goes through 7 pallets of dog food per year! The shelter appreciates any food or supply donations, like cat litter, wet cat food, raw soup bones, and peanut butter.

How to adopt: It’s easier—and more affordable—than you think!

If you want to adopt a pet, PAS wants to help! They do their best to make it affordable and have the lowest adoption prices in the county. Dogs are $65, and cats are $36 and include first vaccinations, de-worming treatment, removal of fleas and ticks, spay/neuter, and a microchip. Your animal can have a free health exam from the veterinarian at Animal Hospital on the Ridge within 7 days of adoption.

If you already have a dog, Paradise Animal Shelter requires them to meet at the shelter. This ensures they’ll get along and be set up for success in their new homes!

If you want to volunteer at the Paradise Animal Shelter, there’s good news: you can!

As St. John says, “It doesn’t hurt to take 5 minutes out of your life to make an animal’s life better.” And sometimes, that’s all you need to make a difference.

All volunteers come to the shelter through PASH. Here’s how:

  1. Fill out an application at the Paradise Animal Shelter
  2. Attend an orientation
  3. Meet and greet interview with shelter staff
  4. Fingerprint with the city of Paradise (Hard felonies not accepted)
  5. Shadow a seasoned volunteer

You must be 18 years old and pass the fingerprint background check to volunteer. If you are younger, a parent or guardian will need to become a volunteer and you may accompany them if approved by shelter staff.

The following are some volunteer needs:

  • Socializing animals
  • Playing with dogs
  • General shelter maintenance
  • Folding laundry
  • Social Media or photography
  • Representing PASH at local events
  • Fundraising

From pets to injured wildlife, PAS does its best to ensure all animals are well cared for.

“We’re a local place where we work with these animals and a great resource when pets are lost,” said St John. “Our main point is always the welfare of the animals.”

If you’d like to help, you can donate, volunteer your time, or adopt an animal. Every little bit helps!

Make it Paradise Newsletter

This newsletter is designed to keep you informed of the ongoing recovery efforts as we rebuild Paradise.  Each week you will receive a newsletter with events, current numbers (building permits, etc.), current topics and a weekly Q&A.

Occasionally, we may send out an extra newsletter pertaining to an upcoming event or important information.