About Us


OKAY – EVERYONE there will be some chaotic moments at PAWS for the next few days/weeks as we move people around and make the most of our “GROWING PAINS”. We are going to be moving everyone from ACO/ADM into the shelter offices for “AWHILE” – as we get ready to clear buildings away, land and remodel the cat house. IT’s growing pains at their worst now, but for the better. SO – everyone please take into account this imposition on the staff, volunteers and clients is not forever! Help us out and please contribute to the PAWS – Building a Bigger Doghouse Building Campaign. WE will be happy to name a kennel, gate, bench, office or surgical room in honor of your corporation, family or in memory of a loved one. Our needs assessment has been returned and we are going to need $7.3 Million Dollars for our complete ( that includes all furnishings and equipment ) expansion and remodeling. Please contact Denise Song or Dee Thompson 850-244-0196 if you would like to contribute. WE ALSO NEED A TEMPORARY OFFICE BUILDING TO HOUSE EVERYONE – IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE ONE! Okaloosa County deserves and should have a NEW SHELTER, CLINIC and ADOPTION CENTER!



The Humane Society was first incorporated on March 26th, 1957 as the Playground Humane Society PAWS. We have played a key role in the field of animal care and control in Northwest Florida for over forty-five years. Our first facility was a small building in Valparaiso, Florida. In 1986, the shelter was renamed the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, affectionately known as PAWS Today, we serve over 160,000 residents in Okaloosa County and surrounding communities.

PAWS is a private, non-profit organization that presently handles more than 7,000 animals annually. The vet clinic is now in its 17th year and has been an enormous success. Since the opening in January 1995, the clinic has sterilized over 48,000 animals. The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals.

Mission Statement

  • To offer refuge and medical care to injured animals.
  • To provide an opportunity for life to homeless animals.
  • To protect animals from cruelty, neglect, carelessness and ignorance.
  • To foster a public sentiment of humanity and gentleness toward animals.
  • To encourage and promote responsible pet ownership.
  • To reduce companion animal overpopulation through humane education and spay and neuter advocacy.

A message from Executive Director, Dee Thompson

DeeWithHorse “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
–Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

How true this is for Shelter life at PAWS.

For, far too long, the Staff and Board of Directors have tried to “shelter” the public about the fact that animals are euthanized.  But the time has come for the public to understand that without their help, this will continue to happen. We have tried to show how many animals are left in the shelter’s care every month (avg. 560), we have shown them the amount of animals that are adopted, returned to their human, and sent to rescues. But the sad fact is the public never asks and does not want to know where the rest go.

Things can no longer remain the same, but it is going to take all of us to do it. The time is here and now for everyone to get involved.  There are so many ways the public can make a difference. Check out our web page www.paws-shelter.com for some great ideas. Like our Panhandle Animal Welfare Society Facebook page, come by the shelter, Get involved!!!

We may never be able to save them all but if each one of you committed your love and time to just one homeless animal a year imagine what could happen. Adopt, foster, train, sponsor, find just one animal that forever home. The very thought of this happening gives me chills.

Let’s All get excited, Let’s All get involved, We can’t do it without YOU.

Dee Thompson
Executive Director of PAWS

Services Offered

The Humane Society and Adoption Center at PAWS offers the services including:

  • Animal care and adoptions
  • Microchip implants
  • Animal rescue
  • Lost and found services
  • Humane education
  • Pet cremation services
  • 24-hour emergency services
  • Pet foster care
  • First Strike campaign
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Pet therapy
  • Spay/neuter clinic
  • Low cost medical clinic for low-income residents
  • The PAWS Junkyard Dog Gift n’ Thrift

Our Staff

Our Humane Services Division oversees the care of the animals taken into the Adoption Center and The Vet Clinic.

Our Animal Services Division helps insure the public safety and provides safer environmental conditions for animals. Though the division is primarily a public safety department, the emphasis is on the need for humane treatment in the fulfillment of objectives. Specific efforts are geared to being part of the solution to animal services problems rather than merely treating the symptoms.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors oversee and guide the staff at PAWS and include professional individuals from local businesses and organizations. Contact us about this exciting opportunity!


The philosophy of the Humane Society and Adoption Center at PAWS is as follows:

  • Because animals are part of our environment, the relationship between people and animals is unique and special.
  • Since humans have chosen to domesticate animals, we have a moral and legal responsibility to care for and protect them.
  • Yet many have failed in this responsibility. Man has exploited and endangered wild animals.
  • They have abandoned their companion animals, condemning them to suffering, starvation and disease.
  • Man has allowed thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens to be born each day, thus perpetuating the cycle of neglect and abuse.
  • To protect animals from this cruelty, our community needs The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.
  • We seek to uplift the community by encouraging the humane treatment of all animals.

After all, a better world for animals will be a better world for people too.



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