For more than 12 years, the cornerstone of Prince William SPCA’s Friends of the Shelter Program has been the PAW Express mobile adoption van. In February 2024, the scope of the van’s mission expanded to include a new partnership with Animal Education and Rescue Organization (A.E.R.O.) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned, injured and sick native Virginia wildlife.
In its new capacity, the PAW Express will expand programming and be used year-round for wildlife operations. It is equipped with a generator and life-saving tools that will enable A.E.R.O. to triage and stabilize animals here in the county as well as transport the animals to wildlife centers throughout Virginia. This is the first-of-its-kind operation in our area and eliminates the need to transport injured animals immediately out of the county for care, saving time and lives. The van will be parked in the gravel parking lot adjacent to the Prince William County Animal Services Center at 14807 Bristow Rd, Manassas. A.E.R.O. volunteers are already using the van to transport and rescue wildlife. In the coming months, volunteers will staff the van certain times a week to accept animals directly from the public.
Over the next year, the van will be rebranded to include the new mission but still be in 100% working capacity throughout the transition.
What about Events? We expect the PAW Express will be out in the public less often with adoption events now that the Prince William County Animal Services Center is open. It is a fantastic facility that we spent more than 10 years advocating for. The van was to be a bridge between the old and new shelter, and it attained that goal by providing visibility to hundreds of shelter animals.
The PAW Express has been the cornerstone of Prince William SPCA’s “Friends of the Shelter” Program since 2011. The custom 26’ mobile adoption van was purchased with a $154,565 grant and has the capacity to hold approximately 26 animals. The first adoption event was held in April 2012, and since then, it has provided potential adopters with a unique opportunity to meet pets outside of the shelter. Over the years, the van attended hundreds of community events, expanding the visibility of the animals and increasing adoptions. In addition to adoption events, the van also hosted pet wellness clinics, assisted law enforcement in processing hoarding cases, and transported hundreds of pounds of donated pet food to needy families.
Prince William SPCA volunteers wrote the successful grant application that secured the funding for the van in 2011. The Petco Foundation was looking for proposals that were creative, increased connections with their local community and local Petco Stores, employed innovation, and most importantly, enhanced the lives of animals in alignment with the goals of the Petco Foundation. In an email confirming the award, the Executive Director of the Petco Foundation stated, “Congratulations. The competition for funding was intense, but your request impressed us all.” The grant proposal included the request for a custom-built van that primarily will be used to increase adoptions of pets at the Prince William County Animal Shelter. The van will also assist in relief efforts of companion animals in crisis and serve as a transport vehicle to a spay/neuter facility. The grant was submitted as a joint partnership between Prince William SPCA and Prince William County Animal Shelter.