We currently are facing a major financial crisis at Prairie Paws Animal Shelter. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful, modern facility available to animals needing homes in Ottawa and the surrounding communities. The shelter not only helps Franklin County, but also Anderson, Miami, Douglas, Osage and Johnson counties. The funds to build the shelter mainly came from an anonymous donor and numerous years of fundraising. All operating funds are from the generous donations of a few individuals. The adoption/relinquish fees pay for the medical care of the animals, including vaccines, neuter/spay, deworming, flea/tick prevention, heartworm testing & prevention, FeLv/FIV testing.

No matter what opinion you have of the shelter, good or bad, it is our responsibility to support the animals, as well as the people who dedicate their lives to caring for them. Prairie Paws is an asset to Ottawa and the surrounding communities. What will happen to the unwanted animals if there is not a facility willing to take them in and find them homes? They will be “dumped” on a county road, killed in an inhumane way or left in a garage after their people move away. Not a pretty picture is it? The animals brought into the shelter are there for numerous reasons: owners needing to relinquish pets for various reasons, stray discarded animals, the unwanted puppies and kittens from unspayed pets. Our shelter does an excellent job of placing these animals. They find homes, rescue groups or foster homes to move the animals out of the shelter. There have been animals placed in rescues all over the United States with volunteers transporting them.

How many residents out there know that Prairie Paws has a very low euthanasia rate? They do not euthanize to make more space or because an animal is too old or not “cute” enough. If a dog is heartworm positive, the employees will find a sponsor to donate funds to treat that dog. An older dog or cat that needs dental work, bloodwork, pain medications for arthritis ... again they will find sponsors to help.   

When the decision to euthanize is made, it is not a cold, unemotional event. I have seen every employee and many volunteers mourn the loss of these animals. It is heartbreaking.

Working at the shelter is emotionally draining and it is a very physical and dirty job. Prairie Paws has some truly dedicated employees and volunteers.

All of the care given to the animals, the building upkeep and general maintenance, utility bills, insurance, payroll ... these things take money — lots of money. The shelter is a non-profit organization; it’s not out to become a Fortune 500 company. It simply wants to stay “out of the red.”

We must put aside our grudges, misgivings, negative attitudes and come together financially for the animals in our communities. We cannot afford to continue with the lack of financial support for our animal shelter. The only other option will be closing its doors. This is a very harsh, undesirable option. I honestly do not believe in my heart this is the option any of us individuals, local businesses, city or county government want.

The employees and volunteers organize several fundraising events throughout the year, apply for state grants, save aluminum cans to sell and clip Best Choice labels to redeem for cash.

Prairie Paws desperately needs help. Please help find an answer. Does the answer lay with local and state government? Raising adoption fees? Turning away animals?

Surely we can step up and come together to help Prairie Paws Animal Shelter.

— Brenda Sims,