(CMR) After over 12 years of providing animal welfare and rescue services in the Cayman Islands, the Protection of Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) is winding up operations.
PAWS was founded in 2010 by Giuseppe and Susanna Gatta, Alex Stewart and Marleine Gagnon with the aim of alleviating the suffering of animals in need, particularly in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman.
The small, volunteer-led non-profit provided monthly welfare deliveries to families with pets in need, animal rescue services, spay and neuter surgeries, and operated a Thrift Shop in Bodden Town.
The PAWS Thrift Shop is being handed over to Cayman’s Acts of Random Kindness (ARK), while the Cayman Islands Humane Society (CIHS) will continue to provide welfare services to PAWS’ clients in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman.
Mr. Gatta said that, at the charity’s peak, it was assisting approximately 30 families with over 100 animals by providing food, veterinary care, and monthly preventative medication for heartworms, ticks, and fleas.
“Knowing what a significant, positive impact PAWS has made in our community, winding up our operations was a very difficult but necessary decision as Susanna and I are planning to relocate to my home country of Italy. Between ARK and the Humane Society, we know our clients will be in good hands,” he said.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported our work over the years. Our efforts would not have been possible without the support of the community,” he continued.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Gatta were involved with the Humane Society from early on in its existence and have been caring for local animals for over 30 years. Mrs. Gatta said their love for animals and passion for supporting the local community drove them to find PAWS.
“Animal welfare was at the heart of PAWS. Each month, we spent hours visiting our clients’ homes in Savannah, Bodden Town, East End, and North Side to provide their pets with food, veterinary care, medicine, and treats. Over the years, we built some very special relationships with these families, and we are proud that we helped keep them together with their beloved pets. We also helped dozens of stray cats and dogs find loving homes and sponsored hundreds of spay and neuter surgeries,” she said.
The PAWS Thrift Shop helped provide low-cost clothing, furniture, and home goods to residents in the eastern districts, raised money to support the charity’s welfare efforts, and provided a hub where pet owners with transport could come to collect food and medication for their animals.
Tara Nielsen, founder of Cayman’s ARK, said the organization was very much looking forward to keeping the spirit of PAWS alive in the rebranded shop.
“ARK is very humbly and gratefully taking over the PAWS thrift shop in Bodden Town. We will continue to happily serve the community, both families and ‘fur babies,’ and will forever honor the extraordinary legacy of Susanna and Giuseppe. PAWS will always remain in the heart of the new ARK ‘Kindness Thriftique’ and those we serve,” she said.
Funds raised through the ARK Kindness Thriftique store will support all of the charity’s programs, including but not limited to ARK’s Feed Cayman program, which provides grocery store vouchers to families facing financial difficulties. The PAWS Thrift Shop Facebook page will be transitioned to the ARK Kindness Thriftique page.
The continued generosity of the individuals and organizations who have supported PAWS over the years will be essential to ensuring the Cayman Islands Humane Society can continue to provide these important animal welfare services in the eastern districts. Any remaining PAWS funds will be transferred to the Humane Society to support these services going forward.