Open Paw Home  

Open Paw in Shelters Materials for Implementing Open Paw Want to be an OP Shelter?Minimum Mental Health Requirements

Open Paw is pleased to announce its 2012 Open Paw® Shelter Grant award recipient: The Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) of Washington, DC. Open Paw®’s revolutionary shelter program helps WARL become a community education center, getting pets into homes and keeping pets out of shelters.

Open Paw in Shelters

While it is Open Paw's goal to use education to keep animals out of shelters, we recognize that there are animals in shelters now who need our help. Imagine walking into an animal shelter where all is quiet and it smells good. The dogs are peacefully, lounging on beds chewing away on delectable food-stuffed chew toys or sitting calmly at the front of their kennels wagging “Hello” at every passer by. The cats are either curled up in beds on elevated platforms or batting at dangling catnip toys. Volunteers are busily training dogs throughout the facility and Cat Cuddlers are patiently teaching young playful cats to retract their claws before getting over-excited. This is a shelter where people come for miles, clamoring to adopt the friendly, well-trained residents. These are cats and dogs that will easily settle into their new, permanent homes. This is a shelter where everyone that walks in, walks out just a little bit smarter, more aware of their animal companion’s needs. This is an Open Paw shelter.

Open Paw was created in January of 2000 with the goal of preventing the unwanted animal problem at its source. Most shelter animals were once perfectly normal, lovable and loved puppies and kittens. Yet many are surrendered to shelters or abandoned when they are six months to two years old. Why have these animals become unwanted? In most cases, because of behavior, temperament, or training problems, all of which could easily have been prevented. Sadly, having come to the shelter with behavioral baggage already, many animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time in the shelter environment. They often become de-housetrained, hyperactive, noisy, anxious, and lonely. Unless a vigorous socialization and training program is in effect, the animals, particularly puppies and kittens, become less and less adoptable, and less likely to remain in a home if they do become adopted, with each day that they stay in the shelter.

Open Paw is unique in our approach to this problem in several ways.

1. We attack the unwanted animal problem at its source through our coordinated programs. First, we educate owners before they get their pets. Our educational materials help owners to raise well-behaved dogs and cats who remain beloved family members for their whole lives, and never enter a shelter. Our shelter program is also designed to keep animals from being surrendered or abandoned in the first place. Not only do Open Paw shelters help the animals they house, they also help keep today's pets from becoming tomorrow's shelter animals.

2. Open Paw's programs offer a revolutionary approach to sheltering. Open Paw shelters are vital, active parts of their communities – they become Community Education Centers. Clean, quiet, and remarkably un-smelly, our Community Education Centers give top-notch care to their animals through our Minimum Mental Health Requirements. More importantly, through the very process of providing care to their animals, the shelters and the animals themselves model fun, friendly training and management techniques for the public. The friendly, quiet, well-behaved animals are themselves the best advertisement for the training methods they demonstrate.

3. Our shelter, volunteer, and owner educational materials are based on the best available evidence in animal behavior, while remaining fun and easy to follow – so that even the most inexperienced animal handlers can raise beautifully behaved dogs and cats.

Our threefold approach allows individual owners, shelters, and the community to work together to stop the flow of animals into shelters, and to ensure that existing sheltered animals find forever homes.

Are You Interested in Using Open Paw in Your Shelter?

Read our suggestions for introducing Open Paw, and think about becoming
an Open Paw shelter

Learn about our available materials for implementing Open Paw in your

Do you want to implement Open Paw in your shelter, but need help with training and logistics? Open Paw offers seminars to give you a helping hand.

Let us put you in touch with nearby shelters using Open Paw. Please fill out this form to collaborate with other forward-thinking shelters.

Return to the top

Training lectures
Stay tuned for new video lectures on our website!

More Lectures & Details

Tip of the Month
The most burning question of the month from Adopters Anonymous submissions
Open Paw Store
It's here! Ian Dunbar's must-have book

Download PDF
Open Paw • 129 Tamalpais Rd. Berkeley, CA 94708 • [email protected]Contact us