Unwanted pets find friends

Published 10:36 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

WINTON – For two local women and their Army of volunteers, animals should be protected.

PAWS of Hertford County, Inc. (Protecting Animals Worth Saving), a non- profit Humane Society founded by Joanne Jones and Betty Liverman, is currently involved in a project that is making improvements to the shelter.

The members of PAWS started the project in April of this year.

Liverman and Jones said the county paid the deposit for the work, but the members of PAWS raised the rest of the money through donations and fundraisers.

According to the co-founders, the county owns the building that houses PAWS. The county also pays the utility bills and the salary for an animal control officer and shelter assistant. There is also a small budget for building maintenance.

However, Liverman and Jones added that the majority of the funding for the shelter, such as for medication and animal food, comes from donations and fundraisers, such as a 5K run/walk and tennis tournament held at the end of May.

Improvements included painting the concrete inside the shelter and sponge painting the office floor.

“We cleaned and made it more pleasant,” said Jones.

Jones said they also tore down a wall in the office in order to make the space larger and added new light fixtures and heating/air units.

They also completely gutted the shelter room where the dog runs are located and remodeled it, according to Jones.

A cat/puppy isolation room was added. Before the addition of the room, the cats and kittens were housed in the office.

An isolation room was needed because puppies must be isolated for 14 days after they have received their shots to ensure that they do not have diseases, which could easily spread to the other animals housed at the shelter.

According to Jones and Liverman, there are 39 kittens and two adult cats awaiting adoptions.

“These kittens are as beautiful as they can be, but there just aren’t any homes for them,” said Jones. “What are we going to do?”

PAWS is also planning to add two large grass runs and four concrete runs in the back of the property.

The idea for PAWS was born in early 2006 when Jones and Liverman asked for permission from the county to take over the shelter and start adoptions.

“We believe this is important because each county has a large amount of work to do,” said Jones.

Jones added that during the planning stages, she and Liverman met almost weekly to discuss plans for the shelter. They came up with a core group of board members and amended the bylaws and mission statement.

At the end of July 2006, they went into the shelter and started to clean and rearrange. Their first adoptions started in August 2006.

“We are animal lovers; we saw a need,” said Jones.

One service PAWS offers is a designated spay/neuter hotline, which can be reached by dialing 642-PAWS.

“People can call if they have any questions about spaying and neutering,” said Jones.

She added that her goal is to spay and neuter 500 animals by December 2009.

“Spay and neuter your animals; take responsibility,” said Liverman. “If people would be responsible and spay and neuter their pets, we wouldn’t have to be here.”

According to Liverman, PAWS works to find animals good, loving homes. PAWS also encourages members of the community to volunteer and help with the animals; all of the 40 members of PAWS are volunteers.

“Even people who are not members, but love animals, come to help,” said Liverman. “They donate their time and help socialize the animals.”

Since they first started adoptions, PAWS has assisted with finding homes for more than 1,500 dogs and cats.

In order to adopt a pet, people must go to PAWS and fill out an application. The board reviews the application and if they feel like the person would be good to the animal, then they can come sign the adoption agreement.

The adopter must agree not to chain or tie the animal and provide it with medication. All people who adopt must agree to have the animal sterilized.

In the adoption agreement, there is a statement that gives PAWS permission to go on the person’s property and remove the animal if it is not sterilized as agreed upon. This is not considered trespassing.

There is a $35 adoption fee if the animal has not been neutered and a $60 adoption fee if the animal has been sterilized.

PAWS conducts adoptions every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12 noon or at other times by appointment. Call 358-7861 to set up an appointment.

“We have a lot of happy adoption stories,” said Liverman. “That’s what keeps us going.”

She added that it is hard to see so many animals that need homes.

Both Jones and Liverman are certified animal cruelty investigators. When they receive calls that animals are being abused, whether they are being used for fighting or are kept in tiny cages with no food and water, they can go out and investigate. Liverman is also a certified rabies vaccinator for Hertford County.

Another program PAWS offers is Meals on Wheels. Linda Andrews is in charge of this program, which is offered to elderly people in the community who are on a fixed income and have no way to provide for their animals.

Through this program, the elderly can receive cat and dog food for two weeks in each month.

“The goal of the program is to help the elderly keep their pets so they do not have to surrender them,” said Andrews. “These pets help keep them alive; pets help you live longer.”

She added that sometimes a pet is the only living thing an elderly person sees all day.

For more information about the Meals on Wheels program, contact Andrews at 356-2445.

Liverman can be contacted at 398-4706.

“There is a need to find homes for helpless animals,” said Liverman. “If you love animals, you want to find the perfect home for them.”