History of Minn-Kota PAAWS


Minn-Kota PAAWS started with  one mission-- to reduce the number of stray and homeless animals in the community by helping people afford spay and neuter services. In 2003, a feral cat which was known to have many litters, was captured and calls to area veterinarians resulted in price quotes that were over $200 for FeLV/FIV testing, vaccinations, and surgery. An internet search indicated that North and South Dakota were the only two states in the country that DIDN’T have some kind of spay/neuter assistance program….and the idea was born.

Minn-Kota PAAWS/PAAWS Project was established by Lori Magelky and Pam Mortenson as a 501(c)3 non-profit in the state of Minnesota. The mailing address remains P.O. Box 45, Moorhead, MN, even though the current clinic location is in Fargo, ND.

For the first two years of the program (2004 & 2005), cats were driven to Dr. Alan Olander in Nevis, MN each Friday morning for surgery and returned with them in the afternoon. Within these two years, over 400 cats were spayed/neutered. The first trip to Dr. Olander’s clinic yielded 18 cats being taken from a Greenwood Communities Trailer Park (10 kittens and 8 adults). The kittens (after being altered at PAAWS expense)  entered the Headwaters Humane Society in Park Rapids where they were adopted.

In 2005, Dr. Ronald Goos retired from private practice in Mahnomen, MN, moved to Moorhead and joined PAAWS project. He took cats with him to the Crookston Humane Society where he spayed/neutered the Humane Society’s animals as well as PAAWS client’s pets. Dr Goos retired from PAAWS in April 2019.

In April 2006, PAAWS rented a single office in the current clinic space at 2125 1st Ave South in Fargo. 

Each year, the program has grown: at the end of 2017, Minn-Kota PAAWS has spayed/neutered 30,018 pets!  Surgeries are currently performed on Tuesdays (Dogs) and Wednesdays & Thursdays (cats).  Anywhere from 10 to 40 surgeries may be completed in a day.

Our Services:  PAAWS is a spay/neuter clinic. We will provide vaccinations and FeLV/FIV testing, only for pets being spayed/neutered. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES does PAAWS provide vaccination services to people who are breeding or planning to breed their animal(s). Veterinarians will prescribe courses of treatment for common ailments (earmites/fleas, worms etc.) that don’t require sophisticated analysis. We will not perform any surgeries on animals not in good health.  We do not provide ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal, or declaw.

Our clients: PAAWS is a spay/neuter assistance program intended to help people who otherwise would not be able to afford to have animals desexed. We are not in competition with full-service or comprehensive care vet clinics. We are reaching out to those who would not otherwise be able to have their animals spayed or neutered. Our clients can generally be grouped into three categories: those on fixed incomes, those with low incomes, and those caring for large numbers of animals (barn cat or feral colonies). When a potential customer calls to set an appointment for companion animal(s) we need to ascertain eligibility. If the individual doesn’t qualify as being on a fixed income or low income, we refer them to a full-service veterinarian. Those caring for colonies of cats do not need to prove income status.

Referrals: The PAAWS clinic receives referrals from local Humane organizations; social workers and psychologists with patients who have companion animals; apartment managers; area veterinarians; and our best source; word of mouth! Many of our customers heard about our services from a relative, friend, or neighbor. We hand out business cards and ask customers from smaller towns to hang our posters in public areas in their communities. 

How do we do it?: We are frequently asked how PAAWS can afford to charge fees that are a fraction of what comprehensive care clinics charge. The answer is simple: we have very little overhead. We do not keep a large pharmacy of drugs or an inventory of pet foods for sale. We do not have diagnostic equipment like x-ray or ultrasound machines.