For Shelters, Humane Societies, and SPCAs

Open Paw

Open Paw is a revolutionary program founded in January of 2000 by Dr. Ian Dunbar and Kelly Gorman Dunbar. It is designed to help stop the surrender and euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats through the education of people and animals. The primary goal of Open Paw is to educate animal guardians and especially people who are about to get a dog or cat.

The most unique aspect of Open Paw’s mandate is to turn every animal shelter into a pleasant, friendly, quiet place where members of the community can go to learn about animals, and about basic training and behavior. Open Paw also wants to change the way shelters are structured, so that animals learn or retain social skills, house training, and basic manners while they are in the shelter. With the Open Paw program, pets leave the shelter better able to live successfully in a new home.

An Open Paw shelter is one where all is quiet and it smells good. The dogs are peacefully lounging on beds chewing away on delectable food-stuffed chew toys. The cats are either curled up in beds on elevated platforms or batting at dangling catnip toys. Volunteers are busy training dogs and cats throughout the facility.

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. And, this is why we love Open Paw and encourages any shelter worker to learn more about the this program.