June is Adopt-a-Cat Month!

Each year DAWS finds homes for nearly 300 cats and kittens. This is just a tiny percentage of the estimated 3.4 million cats that enter U.S. shelters annually, of which, only 37% of get adopted. Celebrate Adopt-a-Cat month this June and help us prevent this CAT-astrophe!

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month 

It is estimated that there are approximately 70 million stray cats in the U.S.  Each year approximately 41% of the 3.4 milion cats that enter U.S. shelters are euthanized.  You can help prevent this CAT-astrophe by:

  • adopting a cat from DAWS or another local shelter
  • ensuring your cats are spayed/neutered
  • volunteering to support a Trap-Neuter-Return program
  • encouraging friends and family to adopt a cat

On behalf of all the cats at DAWS – happy Adopt-a-Cat month!

Environmental Enrichment for Cats

Your cat is a sensory-driven creature who needs an outlet for her energy. If she is faced with a boring environment and no means to release tension, the consequences may be detrimental. Creating an enriching home environment is something every cat parent should focus on to keep kitty happy and healthy.

Keeping Cats Enriched

Environmental enrichment is something that cat parents may not necessarily think of when bringing a new cat home, but it is incredibly important to the well being of any cat. The finely tuned senses of cats have helped them to survive outdoors.  When we bring them indoors, (which is really where we want them), into an environment where there is little to do, a cat may find a way to release tension that isn’t so beneficial.  A boring environment can contribute to destructive behavior, aggression towards other cats, anxiety, or depression. This manifests in a variety of stress-relieving behaviors such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation, over-eating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior and loss of appetite.

Play = Hunting

Patch Play v2_0Cats like being in hunting mode.  Dopamine is released in a cat’s brain when she is hunting, creating a feeling of eager anticipation.  This feeling of eager anticipation makes it less likely for her to feel bored, anxious, or depressed.  By providing enough toys and playtime, we can create the same feelings in our cats that they feel when they are hunting.

Cats benefit from both interactive and object play. Interactive play involves you engaging with your cat by holding a fishing pole-type toy or laser pointer that mimics some form of “prey” your cat can hunt. When you move the toy or dart the laser across or away from your cat’s field of vision, her prey-drive is triggered.  Remember, no self-respecting prey would plop itself right in front of your cat and say, “eat me for lunch,” so she will be less enthused by you dangling the toy right in front of her face.

Object play involves any manner of small toy (or for that matter, ball of paper) your cat can bat around and jump on.  When you place these toys inside various objects or locations, you can stimulate your cat’s curiosity.  Try re-purposing an empty tissue box as a hiding place for a furry mouse toy, or place a small ball inside a paper bag for some added fun.

Tunneling for Fun

Adding a tunnel for your cat to play in or hide can also be a way to add enrichment.  Fabric tunnels can be purchased or you can make one yourself by taping paper bags or boxes together.

Getting Vertical

Cats live in a vertical world and will often seek an elevated location for napping, to seek refuge, or even for security, especially in a multi-cat home.  Giving your cat the opportunity to get vertical can provide additional enrichment.  Vertical space can be created with cat trees, catwalks, or cat shelves and perches.


Every cat needs a place to hide. Regardless of the confidence level in your cat, giving her an option for sneaking away to hide is a good thing.  Donut or “A” shaped beds are suitable hideaways, but even a simple box turned on its side and lined with comfy bedding will suffice.

Cat TV

Visual enrichment for your kitty can also be a great thing.  If you have window perches set up for your cat, consider adding a bird feeder near the window so that your cat can be entertained by the birds that come to partake of the snacks you’ve left for them.  If that is not an option, consider investigating entertainment DVDs that showcase prey for your cats to watch.  You can even log onto YouTube and search “videos for cats” or “entertainment for cats” and find a plethora of videos of birds, squirrels, and other assorted wildlife that can keep you cats entertained.

Finding ways to create enrichment for your cat will ensure she stays happy and healthy.  That’s not just good for her, but also for the whole family.

DAWS Celebrates Another Pets for Patriots Adoption


We’re celebrating!  Dolly, a 6-year-old Coonhound mix, became the second DAWS dog to be adopted as part of the Pets for Patriots progam.

Pets for Patriots Adoption

On May 1st, the second Pets for Patriots adoption was finalized, and we’re thrilled!

Dolly, a 6-year-old Coonhound mix, became the second DAWS dog to be adopted as part of the Pets for Patriots program.  Dolly, a 70-lb. gentle giant, quickly wormed her way into the heart of her new dad when he met her at the 5K race on April 24th.  As a U.S. veteran, he took advantage of the program, which helped to expedite Dolly’s adoption.

Before Dolly met her soul mate, she won over the hearts of the staff and volunteers at the shelter with her nightly sing-alongs.  Dolly’s howls would encourage her fellow canine companions to bark and howl from their kennels, erupting in what we’re sure they believed was sweet, sweet music.

DAWS is proud to be a partner of the Pets for Patriots program, and we hope to match many more animals with loving families as a result of it.

Learn more about Pets for Patriots. 

Your Voice Can Make a Difference!

The voices of animal lovers throughout Connecticut wer heard! Desmond’s Law passed the House and Senate and is making its way to the Governor’s office for signing.  Three additional pro-animal bills need your support.  Learn how you can help.

Raise Your Voice for Animals

Thanks to animal lovers like you, Desmond’s Law (HB 5344) is on its way to be signed into law by the Governor.  There are three additional animal-related bills that are awaiting a vote in the House that need your support:

SB 227:  Cecil’s Law – would prohibit the importation of hunting “trophies”

HB 5578: would prohibit the cruel trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn

HB 5147: would increase the maximum penalty for malicious animal cruelty crimes

These three bills are awaiting action in the House of Representatives.  You can contact your State Representative and ask him/her to support these bills.  Look up their contact information and reach out to them.  Let your voice be heard in support of animals.

Is Your Pet Suffering from Allergies?


The same allergens that can wreak havoc on your nasal passages can also cause discomfort in your pets.  Pets affected by allergies may suffer all of their lives because we don’t recognize the symptoms.  Knowing the signs of allergies in our furry companions can help alleviate that suffering.

Allergies in Your Pet

There are many types of allergies that can affect your pet.  Recognizing the symptoms of allergies in your furry friends can alleviate their suffering.

Atopy is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens that are inhaled or come in contact with skin.  This is the most common form of allergy in dogs and cats. Atopy is often seasonal and includes allergens that also affect humans, such as spring tree pollen, ragweed, and dust mites. Symptoms of atopy include:

  • Chewing at the feet
  • Constant licking of the side and groin area
  • Rubbing of the face
  • Inflamed ears or recurrent ear infections
  • Recurrent hot spots in dogs and pinpoint facial scabbing in cats
  • Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)

Contact dermatitis is an allergy to something your pet comes in contact with.  This form of allergy is less common.  Allergens may include carpet fibers, cleaners, or plastic. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • Red itchy bumps or blisters on sparsely-haired areas of the skin and those exposed to the allergen such as the belly, feet, or muzzle
  • Intense scratching
  • Hair loss (in chronic conditions)

Ten to fifteen percent of allergies in dogs and cats are caused by food. Symptoms include:

  • Itching, especially face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
  • Ear problems, often yeast-relates
  • Skin infections that respond to antibiotics, but then recur as soon as the antibiotic therapy ceases

Food allergies can be confused with food intolerances, which generally cause diarrhea and vomiting, but food intolerances are not true allergies.

If you suspect that your pet has allergies, visit your veterinarian who can determine how best to treat him.  It is the best way to relieve his suffering and help him live a happy, healthy life.

Adapted from:  http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=75

Realtor Kim Gifford Sponsors 5K Race

Kim Gifford Picture v2DAWS is pleased to announce Kim Gifford, Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, as the Title Sponsor for the 4th Annual Run Your Tail Off 5K Race. As a realtor, Kim helps families find their home, and she is thrilled to help cats and dogs find loving homes through her sponsorship of our event.

Kim Gifford has been a realtor since 2003 and is working with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Danbury, CT.  She is a Connecticut native who grew up in Middlebury, raised a family in Bethel, and now lives in Danbury. Kim is the proud mother of two terrific sons, Michael (20) and Peter (19).  Michael is a sophomore at Colorado School of Mines studying mechanical engineering/economics. Peter has Down syndrome and is a senior in high school who loves math, science, and sports.

Kim and her sons are animal lovers. When they wanted to adopt a puppy, they searched Petfinder™ and found Oreo, a 2 ½ month-old Border Colie/Golden Retriever mix in Tennessee.  “Before we knew it, we were holding Oreo in our arms and were instantly in love!  Now Oreo is almost 8 years-old and is such an integral part of the family,” Kim says. “He’s also a wonderful real estate dog, too.  He loves going out on appointments and meeting clients, and many of them request that Oreo come along!”

Kim is thrilled to be able to support DAWS through her sponsorship of the 4th Annual Run Your Tail Off 5K Race.  “Since I help people find their new homes, I love knowing that I’m also able to help cats and dogs find their forever homes,” Kim says. “Pets bring so much joy to a family; I truly believe that a home isn’t complete until you have a loving furry pet!”

Danbury Animal Welfare Society is grateful for Kim’s support of our organization through her generous sponsorship of the 5K.

Custom DAWS T-Shirts for Mother’s Day!

PO7200015-front-CUGet your beautiful, custom designed DAWS T-Shirt for Mother’s Day! Surprise the mom in your life with our unique “Love” design, printed on a 100% cotton, soft quality Gildan short or long sleeve T-shirt, available in several color choices.  Featuring a dog and a cat, this design will let everyone know how much you love your pets.  All proceeds go directly towards providing our animals with shelter, heat,  food, and on-site veterinary care while they await adoption. Thank you!

Click here to order online today!

Focusing on Animal Rights in Connecticut

As the February session of the Connecticut General Assembly begins, a number of bills have been raised that can help in the fight to ending animal abuse and neglect in Connecticut.  Raise your voice in support of these bills.

The Connecticut General Assembly Considers Bills That Will Benefit Animals

CTGA Official_Logo_mdThe February session of the Connecticut General Assembly is underway, and three Bills will be introduced that may benefit the welfare of animals.


This Bill would permit the use of animal advocates in certain legal proceedings relating to neglected or cruelly treated animals.  Representatives can advocate for the interest of the animal or the interest of justice in the event the animal is deceased.  The law was named in honor of Desmond, a former shelter dog, whose abuser and killer was able to avoid jail time.


This Bill is aimed at increasing the penalty for subsequent animal abuse offenses and generally prohibiting the availability of accelerated rehabilitation for violators committing multiple offenses.


This Bill would REQUIRE signage in state parks and forests showing people what to do when they encounter bears. It would also promote regulations that prohibit the feeding of bears.This is proactive legislation that would help minimize human vs. bear encounters, and save lives – both human and bear – as a result.


This Bill would limit the potential for insurers to use the breed of a dog as a factor in underwriting insurance policies for homeowners and tenatnts.

Public testimony has been heard, but you can always lend your voice.  Contact your Representatives and let them know you support these bills.  To find your local Representative, click here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

From Love Stories to Love Matches

Not long after being featured in the Love Stories article in the February newsletter, three of our long-term residents at DAWS found the love that they deserve with new families.

From Love Stories to Love Matches

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, an article called Love Stories was written for the February newsletter to feature some of the long-term residents at DAWS who were in need of some luck to find forever homes.  We’re happy to report that three of those animals have found the love that they deserve.

Just as the article was being published, Tonya went into foster care with a family who was willing to give her theLove Stories Adoptions 2_0time she needed to get comfortable in her new surroundings.  With new doggie friends to guide her, Tonya settled in and found her way into the hearts of her new foster family.  This family went (for at least the second time) from Foster Family to Foster Failure!  Tonya officially became a full-fledged member of the family on February 15thafter being in the shelter for 11 months.

Patch found his match not long after Tonya.  A lovely couple who have adopted many cats from DAWS over the last decade and a half fell in love with Patch when they saw him.  They wanted to give him the chance he deserved.  On February 20th, Patch went home with his new family, and to meet his new sister Abby, after being in the shelter since April 2014.  Patch has settled in nicely, is cohabitating very well with Abby, and is even spending time sleeping on the bed with mom, dad and Abby!

Eve found her forever home just in time to make it into this edition of the newsletter.  On February 27th, she took her “comfy curl” position on the couch in the Real Life Room at the shelter for the last time.  Donning a cozy grey sweater, she snuggled next to her new mom as her adoption paperwork was finalized.  It was a bittersweet moment.  Eve had been with us since April, 2015, and many folks had become quite attached to her.  While it was hard to say goodbye, we are all thrilled that Eve has finally found a forever home to call her own.

DAWS Gets TV Exposure on Pound Posse Presents

Thanks to DAWS supporter, artist ShawnaLee Kwashnak, DAWS benefited from some unexpected TV exposure on the February 6thepisode of the weekly local show Pound Posse Presents. ShawnaLee relayed the story of how she was asked to paint the mural that adorns a wall in our shelter’s Greeting Room.  This was unexpected, but fantastic promotion.

DAWS Mural Featured on Pound Posse Presents

DAWS got some unexpected exposure when artist ShawnaLee Kwashnak appeared as a guest on the TV show, Pound Posse Presents, a weekly series that promotes adoptable animals in shelters, pounds, and foster care in the Waterbury, CT area and beyond.  ShawnaLee was invited to share how she combines her passion for animals with her love of art on the episode that aired February 6th.  During the interview, ShawnaLee relayed the story of how she came to paint the mural that adorns a wall in our shelter’s Greeting Room.  After working with DAWS on a TNR project, ShawnaLee was approached to see if she would be willing to paint the mural.  ShawnaLee agreed, and reached out to DAWS adopters to get her inspiration.  The mural has been gracing the wall of our Greeting Room since 2011.

ShawnaLee remains a DAWS supporter today.  You can find her on our partner page, as she will donate 10% of the cost of a portrait you commission from her if you mention DAWS.

If you didn’t catch the episode live, you can view it on YouTube.  Thanks, ShawnaLee!