Local group on a mission

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 23, 2006

WINTON – Not that long ago there was an effort being made by the Roanoke Chowan Humane Society to construct a new animal shelter that would service both Bertie and Hertford counties.

After JoAnn Jones saw that effort begin to lose steam, she and several other Hertford County citizens founded P.A.W.S. of Hertford County to address some of the region’s pressing issues concerning animal control.

P.A.W.S. is an acronym, which stands for Protecting Animals Worth Saving, and the organization has a mission to help both the citizens and animal population of Hertford County.

Jones and seven other concerned residents of Hertford County have met several times over the past couple of months to organize and promote their organization, which is currently awaiting official acknowledgment of their non-profit corporate status.

At the last Hertford County Board of Commissioners meeting, Jones and her contingency addressed the board and requested permission to implement their own volunteer &uot;task force&uot; to assist the severely understaffed Hertford County Animal Shelter.

Jones said, &uot;We have a need here in Hertford County and that need is first and foremost to address the animal control concerns. The animal shelter has one individual who is responsible for covering the entire region and one other person who is responsible for feeding and cleaning the animals. When you consider the task at hand, it is quite a lot to ask two individuals to absorb.&uot;

Jones is concerned that the public is not educated enough on matters such as pet adoption, heartworm disease, vaccines and spaying and neutering.

While the majority of P.A.W.S. funding will come from grants and donations, Jones is hopeful that the system of animal management that her group proposes will allow the fees that are generated from pet adoption and other services to be a major source of revenue to support the group’s efforts.

&uot;We were advised by county attorney Chuck Revelle to make a presentation to the board, not for funding, but to ensure that any and all liability concerns for the county would be addressed,&uot; Jones said.

The group has already submitted their articles of incorporation and was scheduled to hold their first official meeting on Monday night.

Jones estimates that approximately 15 percent of the cat population in the county will be afflicted with a disease known as feline leukemia, a genetic disorder that can be fatal. Jones is also concerned about the prevalence of heartworm disease in the local canine population.

Jones went on to explain further, &uot;The medicines that it takes to immunize these animals can get pricey. It would be ideal if the adoption process and vaccination process could be managed in one cohesive environment.&uot;

The organization has several committees in its charter, including a fund raising committee, a public relations committee and an education committee.

P.A.W.S. has a two-tier membership structure that includes active members who would physically participate in the managing of the shelter and associate members who would be involved solely in donations and fund raising.

While the horrifying story that arose surrounding the atrocities with PETA were an eye opener for Jones, she says that was not the motivating factor behind the push to get P.A.W.S. off the ground.

&uot;That situation kind of woke up the community,&uot; she said &uot;We are the benefactors of good community leadership that wanted to see this situation addressed for quite some time now, that has been our motivation.&uot;

At the commissioners meeting last week, Commissioner Johnnie Farmer said that P.A.W.S. has done a good job in coming to the council with both a problem and a solution.

Board Chairman Curtis Freeman said that he himself was very concerned about animal control laws, including vicious dogs in the area.

Revelle made a recommendation to the board that the group visit the commissioners again when the details of their charter were ratified.

Jones says that there is a tremendous amount of education that needs to be done in the community and her organization is primed and ready to get started.