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Our Story

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, loveable 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 guardians before they get their pets. Our educational materials help guardians 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.

Open Paw is run entirely by volunteers with equipment donated by those volunteers and office space generously donated by Sirius Puppy Training and James and Kenneth Publishers. Thus, donations and grants go straight into our educational programs rather than administrative costs.





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Open Paw P.O. Box 9097 Berkeley, CA 94709-9097 510-644-0729

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