Sick, Injured, and Senior Pets

With nowhere else to turn, pets with special needs find safety and care at PAWS.

PAWS focuses on rescuing homeless pets who likely have no other way to survive, and gives them everything they need to find a loving home. More and more, what they need is a significant amount of veterinary care.

Because of the lifesaving progress in Philadelphia that PAWS has helped lead, the profile of animals who are entering the city shelter has changed. It used to be that thousands of healthy dogs and cats, or those with easily treatable conditions, arrived and were in need of rescue. Today, there are so many resources available for pet owners to keep or rehome their pets, or for rescues to take them in directly, that animals are more likely to enter the city shelter as a true last resort: because they have challenging medical or behavior issues.

The majority of dogs and cats saved by PAWS suffer from illnesses or injuries like broken bones, dental disease, infectious disease, eye and skin conditions, metabolic disease, orthopedic issues, or cardiac ailments. Many are seniors with multiple issues, having gone without veterinary care for most or all of their lives. These pets often require diagnostics and long-term or specialized medical treatment, so their survival depends on a rescue organization having the resources needed to help them recover.

When the city’s animal control shelter receives injured or ailing pets, their lifesaving team coordinates with us so that we can rescue as many as we have space and ability to care for.

Once safe at PAWS, our medical team assesses them and devises a diagnostic and treatment plan. Depending on their needs, they stay with us while they receive care, or they are placed in foster care so they can begin enjoying the comforts of home while they heal. Our volunteer foster parents are at the heart of our ability to save lives, providing nurturing environments that speed the recovery process, working closely with our veterinary team, and freeing up space in our shelters for other animals whose lives depend on it.

In 2023, PAWS saved 2,378 homeless pets, nearly all of whom needed some kind of medical treatment prior to adoption.


When Oswald arrived at the city shelter with a large wound that had gone untreated during his time as a stray, PAWS immediately took him in. We cleaned and bandaged his injuries, provided careful monitoring and treatment while he healed, and found him a loving home.


Alma came to PAWS after a Good Samaritan found her wandering West Philadelphia in freezing temperatures. She was suffering from painful burns on her paws, most likely from sheltering under a car hood for warmth. Alma found safety and medical care at PAWS, and is now fully recovered and enjoying her new home!

Please Help Us Save More Who Need Us

Just this year alone, PAWS’ Medical Relief Fund has already been instrumental in saving hundreds of animals who were were sick, injured, or facing chronic conditions. However, many more animals lives’ hang in the balance, relying on us to save them. Your support will enable us to meet their urgent medical needs.

For the fourth consecutive year, a group of anonymous donors has generously committed to matching all donations to the Medical Relief Fund, this year up to $40,000!

From Monday, June 3 – Tuesday, June 4, all gifts will be matched to provide double the hope, and double the healing. 

Donate to our Medical Relief Fund


Dental Care

Healthy mouth, healthy life! Dental care is one of the most urgently needed services for Philadelphia’s homeless pets. Many animals rescued by PAWS have painful dental disease and require surgery before they can be adopted.

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Hospice Care

When a pet we have rescued becomes incurably ill, our veterinarians, lifesaving staff, and the foster parent form a team to provide compassionate comfort care for as long as the animal is able to enjoy their time.

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Affordable Vet Clinics

PAWS keeps families together by helping sick and injured pets in our community get well, and protecting others through wellness and prevention.

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