Can working in the performing arts and stumbling upon the world of exotic animals drastically change the course of someone’s life? It did for Pat Derby, an actress, singer and dancer who observed the neglect and abuse of exotic animals and wrote a book about it called, “The Lady and Her Tiger”.
Pat became the trainer for cougars on the Lincoln Mercury television ads decades ago, where she met Ed Stewart. In 1984, after seeing first hand the animal cruelty in the entertainment industry, they founded the Performing Animal Welfare Society, otherwise known as PAWS which provided a sanctuary for captive wildlife.
A wildlife sanctuary is much different than an animal shelter. It offers a place of refuge where an injured, abandoned or abused wild animal can live with dignity and in peace for the rest of their lives. An animal car donation to PAWS helps provide a healthy and safe place for a suffering captive wild animal.
Noteworthy Achievements of PAWS:
- Pat and Ed have pioneered a manner of handling elephants which uses NO weapons, bull hooks or callous training techniques. This non-dominance method was first successfully used by PAWS and has become a model for elephant handlers across the globe.
- Recognized internationally as a leader in animal welfare, PAWS’ greatest attention is to the treatment of animals in animal acts, TV & movies, traveling shows, captive breeding and the exotic animal trade. They advocate for better standards in the care of all captive wildlife.
- PAWS has developed international programs to protect wild species in their habitat. These programs are set up in Mexico, India, Cambodia and Africa to abate human/elephant conflict and create protected spaces for wildlife.
- As a proud member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, PAWS is listed as a 4-star charity with Charity Navigator.
A wild animal enclosure cannot completely substitute for a natural dwelling, however all PAWS sanctuaries are designed with enriched environments including trees and grass. Enclosures for healthy animals are created specifically to duplicate the wild habitats for each species, as much as possible.
Rescued animals reside in a peaceful and natural habitat, free from harsh confinements, chains and fear. They are able to act out their natural behaviors in comfort. They are not traded, sold, bred, rented or forced to perform in any way.
Animals in PAWS sanctuaries are cared for by a well-trained team of over 30 compassionate wildlife specialists and veterinarians providing 24/7 care. PAWS has an outstanding track record of disease prevention, health maintenance and behavior enrichment of all their animals.
Ways To Support PAWS
- You can become a PAWS partner
- Meet and adopt an animal (symbolic adoption)
- Purchase an item from their Wish List
- Volunteer at PAWS
- Donate a car to PAWS
Although PAWS co-founder Pat Derby passed away in 2013, her work and mission live on, impacting countless lives. Under the leadership of Ed, Pat’s dreams and the PAWS advocacy for animals will continue to move forward.