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Organization of 30 years continues to help animals on the island

By Staff | Mar 30, 2016

Sanibel Bean donated $500 to P.A.W.S. PHOTO PROVIDED

A nonprofit organization that was established in 1986, is holding its first fundraiser today to help raise money to further its cause of helping strays and abandoned animals on Sanibel and Captiva.

“P.A.W.S. has been providing this service for no charge. It is strictly donations,” President Pam Sullivan said. “This is our first fundraiser. It comes at a time when our expenses are getting higher and higher.”

Anyone interested in attending tonight’s fundraiser can call Sullivan at (239) 472-4823. The money generated from the event will go towards food, supplies and veterinary care to continue the organization’s mission.

P.A.W.S., Protection of Animal Welfare Society, is the only animal rescue on the island due to the City of Sanibel not having a contract with Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

“People don’t realize there is no other animal support system for strays and abandoned animals on Sanibel,” Sullivan said. “If the police pick up a stray animal, they come to me. I get a lot of support and help from the police.”

She said if an individual looses their animal and they do not have her number handy, they can call the Sanibel Police and they will find her.

Sullivan currently has 17 cats living at her house because adoption does not always happen as quickly as they would like. Sullivan said she purposely purchased a large house with a cabana that was turned into a cat and bird house to accommodate the animals.

Once a stray, or abandoned animal goes into Sullivan’s care it is checked for a chip to see if the owners can be located.

“We wait a couple of weeks to see if we hear anything from anybody,” Sullivan said for both cats and dogs.

If there is no chip, the cat goes through a combo test to determine if it has feline leukemia, or feline AIDS. A picture and description of the cat will then go into the island’s newspapers, as well as posters hung, to let the community know a cat was found.

Once it is determined there is no owner, Sullivan said they start advertising the animal for adoption. The animal is also spayed or neutered, as well as given all the shots, as the search of a new home is underway.

When the animal is adopted, she said they ask for a $50 donation for a cat and a $100 donation for a dog.

“Sometimes we don’t get that, and that’s okay,” Sullivan said.

In the past previous months, Sullivan has trapped ferrel cats on the causeway and rescued cats that were left next to someone’s car in cardboard boxes at Bennett’s to name a few.

“Most of our cats are very sweet and wonderful kitties,” she said.

Although P.A.W.S. mostly helps cats, in the past five, or six months it has provided assistance for five dogs, two of which were tied to a strangers bumper at Lighthouse Beach.

“I love all of the animals,” Sullivan said. “I think we are doing the best job we can here on Sanibel and Captiva. It would be nice to have additional volunteers, especially those that would foster.”

The biggest problem P.A.W.S. runs into is finding forever homes for the animals. She said she hopes to put posters up around the island to further advertise they have cats ready for adoption.

There are many things individuals can do to ensure their animals are safe on the island, and if lost, will return safely back home

“I think our island is very dangerous now,” Sullivan said. “There are too many bobcats, alligators and coyotes. I get calls every week that they lost their animals.”

Her biggest word of advice is to keep cats inside because if they end up outdoors on Sanibel it will most likely die.

“It may have been different out in the midwest on the farm. It may have been different in other places. If they go out they are dead,” Sullivan said. “You cannot leave animals unattended outside here, they are gone.”

Animals should also be chipped with the most current information attached to the registry to ensure if lost they will be returned to the owner.

“You have to make sure the information on the register of your chip is correct. People just don’t think about that,” Sullivan said.

For more information, or to adopt, or foster an animal, call Sullivan at (239) 472-4283.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.