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Angels for Animals to have booth at Duck Race PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 23 September 2017 16:52

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



Like the humans who take care of them, pets need basic necessities such as food and shelter, but the reality for many dogs and cats is they are left wandering in the outdoors forced to scrounge for food and shelter wherever they can find it.

Workers with the local animal group Great Plains Angels for Animals (GPAA) witness this reality every day in Liberal and the surrounding area.

With a neverending stray dog and cat population, an even bigger problem is the lack of spaying and neutering to the pet population.

“It’s a real problem in Liberal and the surrounding area,” said GPAA’s Susan Savely. “Too many people think it’s somebody else’s problem, and nothing’s going to change until more people get involved and spay and neuter their pets. They want to have one litter. ‘I just want one litter.’ Now however many puppies or kittens you have, if they go out and have one litter, it just multiplies over and over again.”

Savely said pet owners in the area need to make more of an effort to spay and neuter their animals.

“We haven’t given up,” she said. “We’re still working towards it. Our goal is to save any animal’s life. We recently saved a guinea pig and were able to get it adopted out. Mainly, it’s dogs and cats, but occasionally, you get that something else.”

Animals not adopted are typically kept in an animal shelter for about a month, and when their time has expired, healthy or not, they are euthanized.

GPAA transports strays to larger cities like Denver and Wichita every month to keep these animals from being euthanized, but that costs money, an average of about $1,000 a month, which Savely said has forced GPAA to temporarily suspend its transfers to Colorado.

“We got down to where we had basically a thousand dollars,” she said. “That was enough for one more run.”

Fortunately, Savely said, other rescue agencies have stepped up to help out.

“We have had some surrounding rescues help us out,” she said. “They will transport a few at a times for us. It’s not the big loads that we used to do, but we’re so thankful that they’re helping us so that we’re still able to save some. We’ve got some Kansas rescues that have stepped up and helped us and spoke for a few too.”

In her opinion, Savely said Liberal’s stray population is nearly out of control.

“Just drive down the street, and you’ll see stray cats, wild cats,” she said. 

Savely said some people in town will try to catch some of the strays and pay out of their own pockets to spay and neuter the animals.

“That’s an expense, but at least, they’re trying to take action,” she said. 

Savely said when an animal is adopted, it becomes a family member just like a child, and it needs to be treated similarly.

“If you move and you’re moving into a place and they say ‘no children’ and you have a child, are you going to just dump that child out to fend for itself?” she said. “Most people would probably say no. Consider that for your pet. They depend on you like a child would. It’s not fair for them just to be dumped out to fend for themselves.”

Savely said new workers at the Liberal Animal Shelter are trying to get out information about the adoption rate from the shelter, which she said is a great help to GPAA.

“Then we’re not looking at save or euthanize,” she said. “Everybody is helping and pitching in, and it is helping a little bit. But spay and neuter is really the key answer.”

Beliefs in animal treatment are different in Colorado than in Kansas, leading to less of a problem with strays in Colorado.

“At any rescue or shelter, the animal is spayed or neutered before they can be adopted,” Savely said. “Here, unfortunately, they can be adopted without spay and neuter. Yes, you put a spay/neuter deposit down, but it’s not the full amount. We have no follow-up unfortunately. I’m not blaming the shelter or the staff. They don’t have the personnel to do follow up.”

Sept. 30, GPAA will have a booth at the Liberal Chamber of Commerce’s Duck Race Festival in Light Park, and Savely said there will be much in the way of items for visitors to the booth to look at during their time.

“We’ll have our tag machine where we can make dog tags or pet tags, luggage tags or military tags, if wanted, on site with whatever somebody wants on them,” she said. “We do that for a suggested donation. It depends on the tag. We do have a variety. That helps.”

Bissell Corporation has donated an All Floor Vacuum that will be part of a silent auction, and other merchants have donated items for drawings at the booth as well.

“It might be a gift certificate to have your pets groomed,” Savely said. “It might be a gift certificate at a restaurant. We have a gift certificate from Rustic Whimsy. Just a variety of things to offer there.”

One of the drawings will be a free spay or neuter for a pet, and some kittens will also be up for adoption at the booth.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to have them there if anybody’s looking for a kitten,” Savely said. “We don’t have any puppies at this time, but the shelter, of course, has animals.”

Savely said GPAA’s funding is dangerously low, so low in fact that the agency is close to running out of money, leaving no choice but to discontinue services and close up shop.

“We’re trying to get through, and that’s why we’re holding our fundraisers,” she said. “This is our first time to be at the Duck Race. We’re hoping because of the traffic there that we have  some funds come in to help us carry on. We have received a few donations that have helped us, but we’re trying to manage those so that we can finish out the year. We’re hopeful that the city gives us our grant again. If that for some reason falls through, I honestly don’t know what the future is, but we’re always trying to do fundraisers of any kind.”

Savely said she has been looking at help from state and federal government to help out with GPAA’s money woes.

“I have been looking and trying to find grants that we can apply for,” she said. “I have applied for some, have not heard back yet. Bissell, we just got involved with them. They have grants, and they do little things like donate the vacuum and stuff. We’re trying. We’re not just asking the local community. I am looking at other means, other grants, other ways to get money.”

Savely said closing GPAA and stopping its services would primarily affect the local animal shelter.

“When it became full, they would have to start euthanizing healthy dogs that didn’t get adopted to make room for what they get in,” she said. “You get in five dogs a day, that’s 25 a week. It doesn’t take long to fill a shelter. I believe they’re only required to hold the dogs 30 days. Our shelter holds them for longer than that right now, but it is because partly that we try to keep them not getting full so that they can.”

Savely said when people go on vacations, they usually put someone in charge of checking on pets, but when an animal gets out, pet owners are many times not notified. Then the animal shelter picks up the pet, and depending on when the animal got out, they could be euthanized before their owner gets back from vacation.

“That’s the sad state if the shelter starts getting full,” she said.

Savely said efforts are being made to return pets to their owners, and more needs to be done by the owners themselves.

“Make sure they have a tag with their name, with your phone number,” she said. “Microchip them. I know people have different views of that, but they scan at the shelter for a microchip. They want to contact you and get your pet back to you. You can microchip cats too. We found a dog at EMS just last week, and someone contacted me. I just texted a picture over to Sarah, and she knew immediately what the dog’s name was, who it belonged to. I contacted the person. The dog went back home. Now, the person’s going to get an ID tag, but the dog was also microchipped. If we didn’t know, we could’ve at least found out. If you treasure your pet, you take care of them. That’s the way I look at it.”

As if there were not already enough encouragement for people to stop by the GPAA booth at the Duck Race, Savely provided a little extra push for them.

“We’ve got 20 pounds of hamburger meat to be given away in a drawing,” she said. “You can sign up to volunteer with us. You never know what’s going on unless you stop by.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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