PAWS began as volunteers mobilized in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. While serving at The San Francisco AIDS Foundation Food Bank in 1986, volunteers noticed that some clients were neglecting their own nutrition and feeding donated food to their animal companions instead. With the belief that no person should have to choose between feeding themselves or their beloved pets, the volunteers created a special food bank to carry pet food and supplies. The demand for this new service was overwhelming and, in October 1987, PAWS became an independent, nonprofit organization.
Over the years, PAWS has expanded the array of services available for our clients and the community. Through our educational programs, PAWS has been a leader in the field of Human Animal Support Services (HASS) with national conferences and the publication of Safe Pet Guidelines, The Health Benefits of Companion Animals, and The PAWS Start-Up Kit that helped launch PAWS-like organizations in over 28 other communities.
After a merger in 2015, PAWS is now a program of Shanti.