I am an 11 year veteran of PAW. In the years I have been active with PAW I have seen lots of exceptionally devoted people, who give selflessly to the cause of rescuing homeless animals. However, often their efforts are undermined by a handful of power-trippy, misguided individuals, who single-handedly impose faulty policies.
In 2008, for example, only about 40 dogs were adopted out to the tune of over $170,000 (the tax form is online). This amount of money is up to 10 times what many other rescues spend to place a similar number of dogs. Scores of applications for dogs were denied unilaterally by a small number of people "in charge" of PAW, often unbeknownst to the rest of the volunteers or the public. The reasons for denying dog adoptions are as varied as they are strange, at times: from applicants' address (yes, that's right) to applicant's possible grandchildren in the future. One couple was denied a dog because they live "in that part of town" where leash laws are not always respected (no evidence that this couple disrespected any leash laws). I was nearly denied my own dog because I "might" at some have a grandchild (my dog is aggressive to small kids) and my other dog (also from PAW) would be a "bad influence" on him. There is no possibility that my grandchild, if any (still none), would live in my house, and my other dog is separated from the other pets, so she does not wield a "bad influence" on my Clooney, who has been happily with us for over two years now.
PAW downplays the fact that more of its dogs are kept in paid boarding than in foster homes. As of 2008 (when I last volunteered with them), as a result of denied applications, dogs could stay in boarding for months on end, up to a year or more sometimes. To be fair, efforts are made to take these dogs out for walks, but even with the walks the conditions of this boarding arrangement are not ideal (barring a total emergency, I would not leave my dogs there even for a weekend). It is very stressful for a dog, in particular a young one, to spend so many months caged in boarding, and many develop behavior issues as a result. Both my former PAW dogs had difficult health and behavior issues as a result of prolonged boarding, I believe. PAW Board is not open to discussion of its adoption policies or excessive use of boarding (which incidentally is quite expensive).
The other problem is PAW's bizarre relationship with their primary veterinarian, who was recommended to me unequivically by PAW as the "best in the area." Being trustful of PAW's recommendations, I switched my personal pets to them, and in 2008, one of my pet's congestive heart failure was missed by one of the vets at this clinic. When I confronted the head vet about the missed heart failure, he gave untruthful explanations (that heart failure cannot be seen on an X-ray; not true, which is very basic). When I pressed for a more truthful explanation, he banned me and three more people in my family from walking sick PAW dogs boarded there 24/7 in cages with no outside runs. In August 2008 two young (and friendly) cats were abandoned at the clinic's doorstep. The same head vet ordered his staff to have them picked up by animal control, before any other options had been given a chance to be explored. I addressed the PAW Board with the question of why this seemingly uncaring and questionable (clinically and ethically speaking) veterinarian is practically the only veterinarian PAW associates with. I offered documentation for my position and asked for a discussion of the matter. No discussion was allowed to take place. The Board made a unilateral decision to stay with this vet; no explanation was provided. I requested an explanation. None. Several other concerned people wrote letters requesting explanations. The letters were either ignored or some jumbled attempt was made to suggest that no other practice in the area would offer PAW the services that this clinic offered. This is incorrect. I had called a number of clinics in the area and reported to PAW that similar or better services and discounts were offered by almost all of them. The decision to stay with this clinic is again a personal loyalty and preference of a handful of people "in charge." These people make decisions to exercise their personal loyalties and preferences not only without consulting the rest of the volunteers but, as in this case, keeping volunteers uninformed of certain important facts.
This was a very unfortunate experience. When you spend years supporting a cause, and then it turns out you don't know everything about how the organization is run, it is worrisome. Wrse yet, when you find out the truth, and it is as unattractive as it is in the case of PAW's leaders and their actions, it is very sad and disappointing.