By Sarah Elmquist Squires

Managing Editor

Frank, a three-year-old mix, went for a stroll at Paws for Life Wednesday in Riverton. Frank gets along with other dogs and people, but isn’t a fan of people wearing hats. Photos by Carl Cote.

Law enforcement officers seized eight dogs when their owner was arrested, with one young female dog who delivered 11 puppies shortly afterward. PAWS for Life animal shelter came to the rescue – in just one case in a year that has seen double the number of animals that are typically taken in by Riverton’s animal shelter. 

“I think it’s been a combination of things,” explained PAWS Board President Pamela Canham of the uptick in animals in need. Shelters across the globe are struggling to make due after so many people adopted pets during Covid they later surrendered after going back to work. 

And while there are many ways community members can step up and help support PAWS, September 9 boasts the one night of the year where you can wine and dine while doing it. PAWS and Pearls, the biggest fundraiser for the shelter, will be held at St. Margaret’s School, and doors open at 6 p.m. It’s a night to remember, and during a year when Riverton’s animals need you the most. 

PAWS and Pearls is a wine and beer tasting featuring a catered dinner, live and silent auctions and a men’s and women’s raffle. The event has grown to one of the most beloved fundraisers in Fremont County, and there are still tickets available for those who want to go the extra mile for the dogs and cats who need community support. Tickets are available at The Ranger office, the Stock Doc, and at PAWS, and also at the door the night of the event. 

“PAWS and Pearls is basically the fundraiser that keeps the doors open at the shelter,” Canham explained. The event is the brainchild of Stock Doc’s Dr. Amy Stockton, and it has grown over the last 17 years. 

New this year will be Farmsted Brewing from Jackson and its signature hard cider. Returning favorites the Lost Springs Band will entertain the crowd, and dinner is catered by Wyoming Catholic College. 

“It’s a labor of love,” Canham said of all the work that goes into the evening. “It keeps our babies fed and well cared for.” 

The live and silent auctions, along with the raffles, include a huge variety of prizes up for grabs – truly something for everyone and every budget. Some of the highlights include an AR-15 with a Lucid scope donated by Lucid Optic and Wind River Outdoors, a complete package trip to see the Golden Knights battle the Colorado Avalanche duke it out on the ice in Las Vegas, a custom white gold and diamond PAWS signature necklace from the Golden Buffalo, and a signed, leather-bound copy of photographer Thomas Mangelsen’s new book on Grizzly 399. “We really have been blessed with all the support that we’ve gotten over the years from people who believe in us,” Canham noted. 

Two kittens sat inside of a cage at Paws for Life Animal Shelter Wednesday in Riverton.

How you can help

Support for PAWS doesn’t just happen one night a year. In addition to the PAWS and Pearls fundraiser, the shelter relies on volunteers and donations to keep Riverton’s animals safe and healthy. And, there are plenty of ways to give. 

Donations to the shelter are tax-deductible, and PAWS is always look for help from volunteers to walk dogs, clean, and assist with projects. Currently, the shelter is in need of a new concrete pad, a bigger water heater, and kennel doors and fixtures for the animals. Any businesses or individuals that can help with projects are encouraged to reach out. 

Businesses and individuals may also sponsor a cat kennel for $100 for an entire year, or a dog kennel for $300. The sponsor is recognized with a custom plaque, and the sponsorship keeps the animal or animals in each kennel fed for an entire year. There’s also a wishlist on the shelter’s website of the items – like Purina food, or litter and cleaning supplies, that they are always in need of. 

Volunteering can be fun, too. With PAWS’ Read to the Puppies (or Kitties) program, kids can come to the shelter and read aloud to the animals. “If a kid is shy about reading in front of people – the animals are just thrilled that someone is paying attention to them,” Canham said. It’s a way to ensure dogs and cats at PAWS get to spend some time with humans who care, while they wait for a new home. 

Learn more about how to help at