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About Us

Our Structure:
Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit organization focusing on wildlife education, rescue and rehabilitation. We operate out of South Carolina and carry rehabilitation permits from the state and federal governments, as well as USDA and USFWS permits for legal public display of resident animals in wildlife education programs. We are recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), so all financial and material donations are tax deductible.

Our Founder:
PAWS was founded by Mercedes Curry, who has 30 years of experience with North American wildlife. She holds multiple federal permits out of two separate federal agencies, and has been licensed for wildlife rehabilitation in two states. Mercedes has been praised by other licensed rehabilitators, teachers, volunteers, and members of the public for her depth of knowledge, compassion, and dedication to wildlife welfare. And as you can see from this favorite photo, she loves a good cuddle with a black vulture.

Our Mission:
Education: We offer professional, licensed, live-animal educational programs for all age groups. Educational programs at PAWS provide critical knowledge of the animals in our own back yard which zoos and broadcast television programs often miss. Our goal is to teach peaceful coexistence with our wild neighbors while calmly explaining the need for safety. Our "professional staff" of educational ambassadors includes a variety of species — barred owl, screech owl, flying squirrel, grey squirrel, and opossum — with more raptors hopefully joining the group in 2013. See our education page for more information.

Rescue: Some wild animals with injuries or chronic health problems would suffer or even die if released back into the wild. In such cases we provide a safe, permanent, federally licensed home for these animals. Some of them become trained and licensed to join our education program (see above); all are loved. Additionally, while there are hundreds of species of animals available for people to have as pets, it is often difficult to find a shelter that will handle exotics or wild animals. While our facilities are not large enough to accommodate unwanted pets, we have helped connect homeless exotic and wild pets with people and facilities who want them. We have even adopted several of them ourselves. Check out our Facebook photo albums to see some of our permanent residents.

Rehabilitation: We have over 20 years of state and federally licensed experience rehabilitating wildlife in multiple states, and have resources to assist with any species that may come to us. We rehabilitate orphaned, sick, and injured wildlife and work to return them to their native habitat, where they belong and where they live best. Visit our albums to see some of the animals we have taken in for rehab this year.

Our Specialty:
PAWS has found a niche offering care to wild animals with unusually complex, time- and labor-consuming "special needs." Our wide array of federal licenses allows us to receive species other facilities cannot legally handle, and individuals of all species who require prohibitively intensive care. In this way, PAWS coordinates with other wildlife rehabilitators to fill crucial gaps in South Carolina's continuum of care for wildlife. Our guiding philosophy bases every decision on the well-being of each individual animal that comes through our gates, and we are proud of the many successful releases that have resulted from this approach.

Our Reputation:
Thanks to community support, PAWS won a Top Rated Award from GreatNonprofits since 2012! Check out our profile and reviews from the community at

Schools and public organizations frequently hire us for educational programs, and community members value what we do. View some feedback we've had from the community on our Testimonials page.

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Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary
PO Box 157
Waterloo, SC 29384
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