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Our Story

In 2005, the three co-founders of Paws New England began their journey together…

It all started when Traci Wood went to the Tipton County Animal Shelter looking for a friend’s lost dog.

She left the shelter a changed person with a new mission: to draw attention to the many dogs that were housed at the shelter and would never leave.

Because of over-crowding, 85-percent of the dogs at the shelter were euthanized. Owner-surrender dogs were sometimes euthanized the day they entered the shelter.

Under the name Tipton’s Treasure, Traci would take a one dog a time, bring him or her to a vet, and advertise in New England for adopters.

From Tipton Treasures to PAWS New England

In the summer of 2005, Dr. Kelly Parker noticed Traci’s adoption listings from her home in Massachussetts, and wanted to help.

Totally unaware of the over-population and euthanization challenges that animals in our southern states face, she jumped right in working with Traci to help more dogs get out of the Tipton shelter. She fostered dogs herself, assisted with transports, and more.

Later that year, their paths crossed with Jo-Anne Hutchinson, also from Massachussetts.

Jo-Anne was at a transport while working with another rescue. One of Traci’s dogs, Daisy, had been abandoned by the person who was supposed to pick her up and was going to have to return to Tennessee. Jo-Anne took Daisy home and she was the first “official” dog adopted out by Tipton Treasures.

In 2008, the name was officially changed from Tipton Treasures to PAWS New England when our non-profit status was approved. Away we went!

Traci has since left the group to pursue a normal life. The rest is history—a history that has taught us that three women can start something that will make a difference by just taking those first steps.

PAWS Today

As of 2016, PAWS New England has over 100 volunteers, all unpaid, donating their time for one reason only: the love of the dogs in our program and those dogs we have yet to meet.

We’ve grown in so many ways. We now have many veterinary partners that work with our dogs and share our passion. They offer us veterinary care at reduced costs, as much as they can. The number of transportation companies we can utilize has grown immensely as well which allows us to bring up more dogs than ever before.

Our foster network—essential to our life-saving work—continues to grow. The importance of foster families cannot be understated. They are vital lifelines for the dogs that come through our program.

Most importantly, after Initially working solely with the Tipton County Animal Shelter, we have in the last few years begun working with several groups in Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Louisiana. When we can, we assist with the local surrender of dogs when no other options are presented to an owner or their family, but this is not the Mission of Paws New England.

Our Mission remains to rescue dogs who would otherwise be euthanized in our southern states.

We greatly value the relationships we have with our southern sister rescues and shelters who, together with PAWS and many other rescue groups in New England, are making a difference. The movement of our southern partners to help the dogs in their area has grown exponentially over the last ten years as well.

More and more of the people in those regions are working extremely hard in their own communities to start spay and neuter programs which can drastically reduce the influx of dogs/cats into the shelters to begin with and are reaching out to adoption partners to get their shelter dogs moved, not euthanized.

This growth is undoubtedly going to continue until hopefully, one day, the statistics show we are all winning the fight.


Euthanasia, often of healthy unwanted dogs, is the still number one cause of death in dogs under the age of two years.
Until that statement is no longer true, PAWS New England will continue on the mission we first started with – getting loving, deserving adoptable dogs into the homes of loving, deserving families who want them.

Our Key Challenges

There are a few key challenges facing not just PAWS New England, but all rescue groups who do work similar to ours.

Various states have implemented anti-rescue legislation, which attempts to stop the influx of southern dogs to their states. We see an increasing number of dogs with health problems, and veterinary and transportation costs continue to rise.

We also have to deal with constant criticism of, “we have dogs in our shelters here in New England already, we don’t need more.”

While it’s true there are dogs and cats awaiting homes in New England, “adoptable” dogs are a different issue. Sadly, there is a high percentage of bully breeds that are turned into our local shelters. The stigma of having a bad temperament or being dangerous still follows the bully breeds and they are much to our dismay not as desirable as other mixed breeds. Families cannot or will not adopt them for several reasons including home owner’s insurance policies that come with breed restrictions.

Our organization, and others like us, serve two very important needs:

  1. Providing wonderful dogs that would otherwise be euthanized with safe, loving homes.
  2. Providing families who can’t afford a breeder dog (or worse, a puppy mill dog) with a wonderful companion who’s fully vetted and a great fit for their home.

Too many highly-adoptable dogs are euthanized every day, and not all families can afford the $1,000 – $3,000 to purchase a puppy.

We never give up, and work as hard as possible to continue our mission. That will never change.