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Animal Welfare Association of New Jersey

Special P.A.W.S. Volunteer Program

AWA's Special P.a.w.s. Program

AWA is grateful to have partnered with community and service-based organizations to provide valuable life and job skills to developmentally disabled teens and adults. 

What is the Special P.A.W.S. Program?

P.A.W.S. stands for People Achieving With Support, and that is exactly what AWA hopes to achieve with the Special P.A.W.S. Program. Special P.A.W.S. volunteers are developmentally disabled teens and adults who are earning service hours while gaining job and life skills.

AWA hopes to provide these individuals opportunities to maximize their potential while helping a cause they care about.

Special P.A.W.S. Volunteer Opportunities

These volunteers help with a variety of tasks at both AWA’s Adoption Center and Pet Clinic! These tasks include:

  • Create Enrichment for the Animals at the Adoption Center
  • Assist with cleaning the Pet Clinic
  • Maintenance on AWA’s Training Trails
  • Help with Laundry
  • Wash food bowls
  • Help maintain AWA’s Garden
  • Administrative Duties
  • Adoption Greeter
  • Pet Pantry Help

…and more!

The Importance of the Special P.A.W.S. Program

AWA wanted to create a mutually beneficial relationship with service-based organizations in our community, including Yale School,  Bancroft of Burlington County, Kingsway Learning Center, Division of Children and Families School and more. Our is to provide opportunities to individuals who are developmentally disabled and continue our mission of not only caring for animals, but also benefiting people in our community.

Individuals who participate in the Special P.A.W.S. program may learn essential job and life skills, including: Customer service, time management, problem solving, organizational skills, social interactions in the work place, safety skills and more.

Become a Part of AWA's Special P.A.W.S. Program

If your school or organization is interested in becoming a part of AWA’s Special P.A.W.S, please contact Katie Ritter, AWA’s Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@awanj.org, or by clicking the button below!

Frequently Asked Questions

At this time, AWA is unable to provide aides or one-on-one support for individuals in the Special P.A.W.S. Program. Individuals that volunteer through this program must be accompanied by an aide/guardian, and groups that participate through a school or organization must be accompanied by instructors and/or job coaches. In the future, AWA hopes to grow this program and have the ability to provide support for individuals that would like to be involved with the Special P.A.W.S. program.

Yes! Individuals who would like to get involved with the Special P.A.W.S. program are welcome to do so along with a job coach and/or guardian. Both individuals must fill out the Volunteer application, which can be found here.

There is a multiple step training process for all volunteers to go through prior to completing hands on tasks with the animals. If an individual and a job coach goes through this training, they will be able to handle some animals at the discretion of the Adoption Center. For more specific questions, please email volunteers@awanj.org.

Please Note: The Adoption Center and Pet Clinic can be high-stress environments when busy and can become very loud. This may make individuals with sensory processing issues uncomfortable and overwhelmed. AWA will do our best to place every individual where they are most comfortable. Please discuss this with the volunteer coordinator prior to your first visit.

If you have questions about the Special P.A.W.S. Program, please contact Katie Ritter, AWA’s Volunteer Coordinator, at volunteers@awanj.org.