Animal shelter depends on community contributions
Most animal shelters nationwide are independently operated and are therefore dependent on community support to keep their doors open.
Crook County Middle School Leadership is one local group which has gone out of its way to help the animal shelter, having recently concluded a drive to raise needed food and supplies.
Each year the Leadership class busies themselves with several service projects, the pet food drive was one such effort.
Avid animal enthusiast and Leadership seventh grader Christopher Bothwell came up with the idea after hearing that the shelter is always in need of donations. He then persuaded his classmates to tackle the project and received ample support from fellow students.
Leadership instructor and middle school teacher Julie Swinehart says, "The kids were pretty excited about Christopher's idea. I think everyone really teamed up and worked hard to raise the pet food."
To coordinate the effort students set up decorated bins and barrels collecting food donations from the public in grocery stores and shops throughout Prineville and Powell Butte.
After only one week of taking collections, over 400 pounds of pet food was deposited into the bins. "The bin in Thriftway was really overflowing when we went to collect the food," Bothwell said.
Bothwell and his classmates delivered the pet food to the animal shelter at the conclusion of the drive where it was enthusiastically received by shelter staff.
Shelter manager Talena Smith explained, "Shelters are dependent on community support, and it is important that people are educated at a young age about caring for animals."
Bothwell prides himself for thinking up the pet food drive and is happy with the results, "I'm glad that my class helped the community and the animals."
The Leadership class pet food drive is just one example of how the community has helped the shelter in recent months.
According to shelter management, the Prineville facility operates on a low-kill basis, meaning only animals in poor health or those who are overly aggressive are `put down'.
The Humane Society strives to offer a safe haven for abused, abandon or stray animals, providing them sanitary shelter, adequate food, medical attention and proper care _ a task that couldn't be accomplished without community support.
"Humane Society" and "SPCA" are generic terms; shelters using these names don't necessarily have an affiliation to the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA. There is presently no government or federal organization overseeing the operation, or providing funding for shelters.
Since its opening in 1999, the Humane Society of the Ochocos has been successful in transforming unwanted animals into quality pets by adopting animals out to compatible homes and families.
They operate to provide a temporary home to hundreds of animals yearly. In addition to the expected dogs and cats, the shelter also cares for rabbits, livestock and exotics of every description _ all of which await adoption into compassionate homes.
Animal shelters all over the country, including the local shelter, depend on the community for donated pet care supplies as well as monetary contributions.
In particular, the Humane Society of the Ochocos is in constant need of pet food, cat litter, grooming supplies and laundry detergent.
According to staff, the shelter's wish list includes new water hoses, a blow dryer and a digital camera. Due to a recent breakin money is being raised to build a security fence around the four acre perimeter.
"The fence will not only protect the building from intruders, but it will give the animals a large area to run and play," explains shelter employee Elizabeth Winslow.
In addition to donations Winslow also stresses that folks can contribute time to the shelter as well. "Volunteers are always welcomed at the shelter to play with the dogs and cuddle with the cats," she said. "The animals crave attention and human affection. Volunteering at the shelter is a rewarding way to help these animals in need."
Youth and adults alike are encouraged to become volunteers for homeless pets. Young people in particular gain from the opportunity to learn about the responsibility of animal care.
For more information about the Humane Society of the Ochocos, pet adoptions, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, call 447-7178 or drop by the shelter at 1280 S. Tom McCall Road.