Since this website went online in late 2010, it has run regular columns from PAWS (Protection of Animals in Wakefield Society) highlighting the various pets, mostly cats in this case, that need a home.
The local nonprofit recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and much of its success is due to the hard work of its volunteers, as well as donations from the community.
In Lynnfield, Diane and Keith Hammerbeck are active volunteers with PAWS. Diane sits on the board of directors and the couple also provide a foster home to the various cats that need a home at any given time.
Diane grew up in Salem and moved to Lynnfield in 1987. She works as the assistant town clerk in Lynnfield.
In a recent interview, Diane explained that in a pet foster home, PAWS provides the litter and food, as well as medical needs for the animals. Before adoption, the cats are tested for feline AIDS, leukemia, plus they are de-wormed if needed, spayed, vaccinated and now, even have microchips implanted.
The Hammerbecks have been providing a pet foster home for PAWS for about 12 years now. Before that, she started off rescuing animals by taking in a small pregant stray cat that had its litter in her basement. Another favorite cat over the years is one that was taken in after losing its leg to a car. The couple will also sometimes keep a cat as their own if for some reason it turns out to be non-adoptable.
"PAWS is a wonderful group of true animal lovers whose passion is saving the lives of stray and feral cats and the occassional dogs," said Hammerbeck.
During their entire time as PAWS volunteers, Diane estimates that she and Keith have opened their home to some 200 foster pets awaiting new families.
One thing that anybody who has ever adopted a rescued pet can attest to (including this writer) is the sense that the animal has a certain higher level of gratitude for its new home. "I really think they know that you've helped them," said Diane.
For those who already have pets, Diane emphasizes the importance of having them spayed and neutered, especially since this can help prevent bad cat fights and feral populations - which Lynnfield does have its share of. She also cautions people about letting their cats roam outdoors, since they could wind up as prey for coyotes or fisher cats.
While PAWS recently marked a milestone anniversary, Diane also emphasizes that this and all local nonprofit groups depend on support from their communities.
"A lot of people don't realize how important it is to donate to groups like us, because that's how we survive," Diane said.
She also noted that PAWS is very well known in Wakefield, but does not seem to be as much in Lynnfield. With that in mind, she noted that another way local residents can show support for PAWS or similar groups is to agree to provide foster homes for unadopted pets.
"We're always in need of foster homes," she said, adding that any support that PAWS receives from the community is always greatly appreciated.
Editor's Note: If you would like to be a PAWS volunteer or provide a foster home for pets waiting for adoption, call their response line at 781-246-6111. Tax deductible donations are also gratefully accepted and can be sent to PAWS of Wakefield at PO Box 1842, Wakefield, MA 01880.