Mission Statement

Paws4ever is dedicated to creating and growing lifetime relationships between pets and people through adoption, training, education & care.


Our History: Paws4ever began advocating for animal welfare in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1962 as the Animal Protection Society of Chapel Hill. It incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 1972 and as its sphere of services expanded to serve the whole county, changed its name to the Animal Protection Society of Orange County, Inc. in 1977. From 1979–2004, the APS of Orange County, Inc., as a nonprofit charitable organization also administered the county government contract to operate county animal control services and its open-admission animal shelter, providing rescue, health exams, humane care, nutritional food, disease and parasite control, and veterinary care for sick or injured animals arriving in its care. Through those 25 years, APS of Orange County, Inc., proved itself to be a progressive and dedicated organization to the welfare of all animals and, with the help of several very generous donors, developed the Felicite Latane Animal Sanctuary on 50 acres near Mebane. It is here that the APS of Orange County built and operated a learning center for dog training and a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.

In 2000, the APS of Orange County began a capital campaign to build a second shelter facility at the sanctuary location, to expand its take-in capacity, to shelter more animals and to adopt out more companion animals. In 2003, the wildlife center moved from the sanctuary and out of APS of Orange County auspices to become Piedmont Wildlife Center. In July of 2004, after 25 years of administration, the county government ended its contract with the APS of Orange County to run its animal control services and shelter. In October 2004, the APS of Orange County opened the recently completed Adoption Center at the sanctuary as a closed-admission, guaranteed adoption center.

Today, the Adoption Center is a placement partner for animals transferred from county shelters, including Orange, Chatham and Caswell, where the number of adoptable pets outpaces the space to house them. The Learning Center provides the most affordable and comprehensive array of dog training in our area, and the sanctuary is home to a 3-acre dog park.

In October of 2008, 43 years after its beginning, the Animal Protection Society of Orange County changed its name to Paws4ever to better reflect the current mission and programs. Our current name and its tagline, "Adopt, Legacy Care, Train." brings focus to the core areas of service that continue to make our whole community a progressive leader in the humane treatment of animals.

Paws4ever People

Paws4ever Staff

Our mission to help animals succeeds through the tireless dedication of caring people. These are the people whose love for our furry friends shows no limit:

  • Kathryn Ruggeri
    Executive Director
  • Sara Shellman
    Adoption Center Manager
  • Kathy McVay
    Business Manager
  • Sondra Jones
    Development Manager
  • Liese Zweigart
    Volunteer Manager
  • Terri Shue
    ReSale Store Manager
  • Imbi Kiiss
    Training Program Manager
  • Jennifer Thornburg
    Senior Dog Training Instructor
  • Morgan King
    Adoption Center Assistant Manager
  • Melanie Berk
    Senior Dog Training Instructor
  • Emily Albert
    Development and Communications Associate
  • Michael Jones
    Animal Care Tech
  • Carmen Johnson
    Animal Care Tech
  • Ashley Harvell
    Animal Care Tech

2019 Board of Directors

Our dedicated and generous board of directors members serve two-year terms to govern and direct the programs and services available at Paws4ever. Nominations for board service must be received by the November board meeting each year and members are elected in December. Paws4ever is currently seeking new board members, particularly with experience in finance or development. Those interested should email our board president.

  • Leigh Matthews, President
  • Mindy Alioto, Vice President
  • Ann Petersen, Treasurer
  • Jeff Hockett, Secretary
  • Kathryn Ruggeri, ex officio
  • Perry Dowd
  • Kendall Page
  • Jaye Kreller
  • David Schmidt
  • Sally Schatz
  • Lene Kiester
  • Jill Grant
  • Rob Johnson
  • Carla Julian

Dog Park & Nature Trail

General Information

Dog Park and Nature Trail
The Paws4ever Dog Park is a fenced three-acre off-leash socialization and play area for your dog. The park is located on the grounds of the Felicite Latane Animal Sanctuary / Paws4ever and is open almost 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until dusk. Please note there is no separate area for small dogs at this time.

Dog Park memberships include access to our Nature Trails! The 2 mile primitive trail is a beautiful route through the woods and includes access and views of Toms Creek. All dogs must be on leash while on the Nature Trail.

Dog Park memberships are available for an annual fee of $60 for one dog plus $30 for each additional dog.

For those interested in Dog Park membership, we strongly recommend attending at least one obedience class before joining the park. Your dog must respond to your requests to come to you reliably to maintain dog park safety for all members. Dog must be at least 7 (seven) months old prior to joining, and prospective members may be assessed for basic appropriate social conduct and safe handling ability prior to being approved as members.

Remember that it is your responsibility to control your dog. Having your dog spayed or neutered is strongly recommended and no female dogs in heat are permitted in the dog park. Documentation of DHLPP vaccinations, rabies and Bordetella must be provided upon application for membership

Request a Membership Form Today
Please contact us at to receive a membership request form

Rental Space

Are you ready to host your next seminar, workshop, or training event at Paws4ever?

The Learning Center is 8,700 square-feet of climate controlled, comfortable space with three large and fully matted rooms, restrooms, a kitchen, and a competition size, fully fenced outdoor field with a variety of competition agility equipment. Rentals are available in 1/2 day, full day, and multi day increments for your convenience.

Paws4ever is conveniently located near Mebane/Burlington and Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Hillsborough. There are many local and franchise restaurants within easy driving distance as well as a variety of lodging options.

For rental availability and a custom contract quote, please contact us at


Paws4ever is dedicated to being a resource for our community's pets and their families. Click below to find documents that offer tips for caring for your pet, what to do if you find a stray, and alternatives for surrendering your dog or cat.

Paws4ever Adopter & Community Resources

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