Dewey, Hanna, Fluffy, and Donna. Those are the names of Pat and Rick Ellenberger’s quartet of dogs, all of which they adopted from Centre County PAWS.

“All of these four-legged family members bring us great joy,” Pat says. “Dewey gives the best hugs, Hanna is our little spitfire, Fluffy watches over all of us and is sweet and gentle, and Donna is our happy girl who loves to cuddle on the couch.”

The Ellenbergers have lived in Ferguson Township for more than 20 years and are retired. They both do volunteer work at organizations throughout the county. Pat volunteers at Centre County PAWS, helping at the front desk and with birthday parties or other celebrations.

Animals that are older and have health or behavioral issues can be difficult to place. After losing a beloved dog to cancer, the Ellenbergers chose each of their PAWS dogs precisely because they wanted to help animals that were most in need of their help.

“People tell us that our dogs are so lucky to have us, but we know we are the lucky ones,” she says. “We just love each one of them for who they are!”

The dogs bring joy to the Ellenbergers and to many others in the community. Pat takes Dewey and Hanna to nursing homes to visit with the residents and to parties at PAWS to play with children. Dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, or in other costumes, the dogs give everyone lots of hugs and kisses.

Their most recent adoptee, Donna, has been with them for a few months. She came from a puppy mill, which resulted in emotional issues, dental problems, and arthritis from living in a small crate. Donna is also deaf and the Ellenbergers are teaching her sign language.

“Even though her walk is crooked, when she trips, she gets up, keeps going, and is smiling the entire time,” Pat says. “She is the happiest little dog.”

Seeing animals like Donna transform is one of the things Christine Faust enjoys the most about her job. Faust is the Director of Development and Marketing at the animal shelter located on Trout Road in State College.

“It’s very rewarding when scared, shy cats and dogs open up and begin to trust our volunteers,” Faust says. “We also love to see the changes in the animals that arrive at PAWS in bad shape and greatly improve due to the care and love given to them by our volunteers.”

“People tell us our dogs are so lucky to have us, but we know we are the lucky ones.

In 2016, PAWS processed 512 cat and 337 dog adoptions by community members. Through low-cost clinics and free vouchers for Centre County residents in need, they also provided 1,806 spay/neuter services to the public.

Those numbers were similar in 2015 and have been increasing since 2014. This is why financial support, including from Centre Foundation, is so important for this non-profit shelter.

PAWS enjoys annual grants from several funds that are housed at Centre Foundation, including the Centre County PAWS Fund, the Bob & Sue Nuss Fund, the Elizabeth K. Held Memorial Fund, the Carl and Josephine Gettig Memorial Fund, and the Mattil Family Fund.

And PAWS is always a favorite during Centre Gives – the organization raised $49,686 through it in 2016 and $61,055 in 2017. Grant money from Centre Gives and endowment funds totaled $55,744 in 2016.

The money helps to support the organization’s shelter operations and medical budget. In one year alone, PAWS spends an average of $150,000 on medical care for its animals, including preventive care, vaccines, blood work, medical procedures, and spays/neuters of PAWS animals.

“We’re grateful for the support we receive from Centre Foundation and that our community has so many generous, caring people who support Centre County PAWS and all of the great non-profits in our town,” Faust says.