About Us

PAWS was founded in February 1997 by Deirdre & Gina Hetherington in Sallins Co Kildare. The original concept was to rehome unwanted pets from their current homes and take in dogs from Kildare Dog pound to save them from destruction. At the time, there were 35,000 dogs being killed in Irish Dog Pounds every year, with Kildare being among the top ten and we felt this was no longer acceptable. Soon, word about PAWS spread via the media and Ginas weekly appearances on TV3 and we were assisting animals from the 26 counties and beyond.

By 2000, PAWS was taking every dog available from South Dublin Dog Pound in Saggart and Greyhounds from Ashton Pound in Nth Dublin, as a result of which, the destruction rate greatly dropped in those pounds. We never did gain direct access to the ISPCA run, Kildare Pound. In 2004, we realised that we no longer had the space to hold the number of dogs that desperately needed our help, so we approached Kildare Co Council and asked them to donate a site and we would raise funds to build an animal shelter, However the Lady from KCC Environment Department said, “Our job is to clean up the streets, not to find homes for them”.

At that point we realised that we must look further afield. One of our founders, Gina Hetherington & her late husband Tom Molloy, approached the ACC bank and secured a mortgage. We scoured the auctioneers for several months and then a suitable location arose in Mullinahone Co Tipperary, 12 miles from Kilkenny City. In 2006, PAWS moved their kennels to Mullinahone, still retaining the office in Sallins as a place to assist dogs in County Kildare, and in 2011 we commenced a programme to rehome abandoned Donkeys.

Since 1997 PAWS, has rescued, vaccinated, neutered and rehomed thousands of dogs and as 70% of these were adults, our neutering programme has prevented millions of unwanted puppies being born and consequently dumped in ditches, dustbins and dog pounds. Sometimes we feel like giving up and giving in but then somebody says a kind word or calls to visit, with a happy, healthy adored pet, which when it originally came in to our care was a quivering, ravenous, petrified mess. Days like those give you the strength to carry on that extra mile.

As you may know, we at PAWS depend totally on the public to help us to keep our doors open to abandoned and abused animals. The National Lottery have thus far ignored pleas from Animal Welfare groups to grant aid our work and the Dept of Agriculture very kindly give a small grant each year to rescue centres, sadly, however, this only covers a minute portion of the running costs, which ran to over 240 thousand euro last year. The rest is made up from flag days, fundraisers and donations.

We, at PAWS now find ourselves under serious pressure. Our biggest expenses being veterinary fees & dog food. We never seem to reduce the debt because of the vast volume of dogs coming through our doors, for a rescue our size to handle an average of ten dogs a week for vaccination, worming, neutering and micro chipping is extremely difficult financially.

Our dream is someday to expand our operation back to the abandoned animals which we had to leave behind in Kildare.
Help us keep our dream alive

If you can help in any way. Fundraise, adopt, foster, lobby, please get in touch. We leave you with this thought:

Every day of our lives, each one of us gets out of bed, puts our feet on the floor and drearily face the working day.
Since we started PAWS that has changed.
We know we are making a difference.. against the odds..
It has been a long and bumpy road and we have hit many potholes along the way.
I still thank God each day; for the people like us all over this island, who make a difference,
For our Vets Southview Clinic in Clonmel & Beaufield Veterinary in Celbridge,who have unbelievable patience,
I thank God for our underpaid and overworked employees and volunteers who give their time and compassion to try to ease the burden,
But most of all we thank God for YOU, our supporters, because without you, we would not be here today and we would be unable to keep our doors open to those in need. Believe me, together, we have made a Difference
There is no going back now, for if we stop tomorrow.. What will happen to those unheard voices ?
We MUST go on, despite lack of Government support,
We MUST go on despite lack of funds,
We MUST go on because we have to..
Because somebody has to..

Our Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising