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
  • Laura Griest
    Legacy Care Manager
  • Liese Zweigart
    Volunteer Manager
  • Shannon Ducrest
    Adoption Center Manager
  • Josie Carmona
    Guest & Adoption Services Assistant Manager
  • Imbi Kiiss
    Training Program Manager
  • Kathy McVay
    Business Manager
  • Sondra Jones
    Development Manager
  • Erin Jackson
    Senior Dog Training Instructor
  • Melanie Berk
    Senior Dog Training Instructor
  • Emily Sips
    Animal Care Associate
  • Ruth Stephens
    Animal Care Tech
  • Terri Shue
    ReSale Store Manager, Animal Care Associate
  • Emily Albert
    Development and Communications Associate
  • Kristen Wheeley
    Animal Care Tech
  • Kaleb Thurman
    Animal Care Tech
  • Abigail Hamilton
    Animal Care Tech

2018 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
  • Becky Nichols, At-Large
  • Kathryn Ruggeri, ex officio
  • Perry Dowd
  • Kendall Page
  • Susan Tise
  • Jaye Kreller
  • Jill McCullough
  • David Schmidt
  • Sally Schatz
  • Linda Smith
  • Lene Kiester

Dog Park & Nature Trail

General Information

Dog Park
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 and is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until dusk. Dog Park memberships are available for an annual fee of $50 for one dog and $20 for each additional dog.

For those interested in Dog Park membership, we strongly recommend attending at least one obedience class before joining the park. All dog owners must participate in a Dog Park orientation, which includes a video on Dog Park etiquette. Each dog must be at least four months old and is also interviewed for basic social conduct.

Remember it is your responsibility to control your dog off-leash. 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

Nature Trail
The Paws4ever Nature Trail is now open! The 2 mile primitive trail is a beautiful route through the woods and includes access and views of Toms Creek. Nature Trail memberships are available for an annual fee of $20 for one dog and $5 for each additional dog. Dog Park members may add access to the Nature Trail for an additional $5 per year.

All dogs must be on leash while on the Nature Trail.

Join Today
To schedule an orientation and interview for you and your dog please contact the Paws4ever dog training manager at

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 grateful for the participation and contributions from our generous Annual Partners! Please help Paws4ever thank our Annual Partners by shopping with them and using their services. Contact us to become an annual partner!

  • PLATINUM LEVEL: Creekside Animal Clinic * Morrisville Cat Hospital * Kendall H. Page Attorney at Law *Performance Subaru
  • SILVER LEVEL: Professional Recovery Consultants *Carolina Solar Energy
  • BRONZE LEVEL: A Better Image Printing * Doggie Spa and Day Care * Total Exposure Designs* Local Market Realty * Girl With 3 Dogs Photography * Carrboro Plaza Veterinary Clinic * Ellery Adams, Mystery Author * Tony Hall & Associates * Four Paws Animal Clinic *
  • COPPER LEVEL: Whit Page, Chapel Hill Title & Abstract *Dingo Dog Brewing Company * Chapel Hill Eyecare * Sunny Acres Pet Resort *Hill Creek Veterinary Clinic * Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering * Glover & Petersen, P.A.


    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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