P.A.W.S Animal Shelter Dealing with Multiple Emergencies


September 7, 2022

There was a litter of 6 pups in an old broken down shed, they were roughly 6 weeks old at the time. Fleas covered them from head to toe. Junior volunteers, Brianna Zumbrun and Saraya Jones gave them flea baths when we got back to the shelter the first night. The bath water was dark red from the blood coming off them.

The P.A.W.S. Animal Shelter in Chinook successfully managed to get through August after having several emergencies dumped on their doorstep. The Shelter still has a ton of needs and a lot of work to do, but they have survived the initial storm and with the help of the community, hope to complete their most trying mission to date. "August of 2022 was a showstopper for sure. Intakes in August of 2021 totaled 6, August of 2022 totaled 43" stated Alissa Hewitt, President of the shelter. "The shelter was not built for numbers like these. So, the fact that we don't have a lot of shade in the run was not great but has become a real problem housing this many dogs." As if a huge influx of intakes wasn't problematic enough, "A storm came through and destroyed all but one of our shade cloths. When we were contacted about 20 or so dogs roaming around out on the highway, we didn't hash out a plan and figure out what to do about shade or food or comfort. We put our boots and gloves on, grabbed our traps and started hauling dogs," added Hewitt.

The shelter quickly found itself in crisis mode with all hands on deck, but still needed so much, "This community always comes through in ways that overwhelm us, in a good way! We have received so much dog food that we have been storing it at a volunteer's garage. Supplies keep coming in and we are going through them as fast as they show up on the doorstep. The help now centers on vet bills. None of the dogs we rescued (32 so far with some still left to capture) have had any vet care in their lives. So, vaccines were top priority," stated Hewitt.

Many of the dogs needed much more care than just updating their vaccinations, "We started looking at who needs vet attention, like the dogs that are limping, the dogs that have wounds that need to be looked at and treated. Those are priority cases. Spays and neuters are scheduled out to mid-October right now. And the cost to get each dog to a baseline of say vaccinated, spayed and neutered, micro-chipped, with no additional care like limps, bumps, injuries, etcetera is about $200-$300 per dog," added Hewitt.

With such an enormous task at hand the P.A.W.S. Crew of two staff members and three to four volunteers has maintained the course, "Our board has lost a few members and we have recently lost two volunteers, Hewitt stated. "Luckily, we have a few families who have adopted from us that have stepped up and have come down to help with the vaccinations, they check traps for us and have offered help to build shade shelter with some donated materials we have received. Definite shout outs to Kelly and Amy Jones, Kurt and Brittany Dawson, and Colt and Maggie Scovel to name a few."

It hasn't been all doom and gloom and many positives are starting to happen for the shelter, "There is always good to find when we have people who find the time to put the shelters needs ahead of their own. The Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center in Great Falls offered to transfer some dogs, so we were able to move five down there. We also had three of the Hell House Hounds adopted," said Hewitt. The shelter staff and volunteer crew refer to the rescued dogs from the abandon home as the 'Hell House Dogs' because of the horrifying conditions they were living in. Hewitt added, "We also had three dogs separate from the hoard make their adoptions official."

Currently the dogs are being updated medically and treated as fast as possible, "Tari Mord of Eastside Animal Hospital along with her two assistants came out to the shelter on August 24 and vaccinated the first haul of dogs. That evening, 22 dogs received their first distemper/parvo, kennel cough and rabies vaccine."

The shelter has been busy finding homes for the dogs that were rescued as well as dogs previously sheltered, "So currently, we have one mom and her litter that we rescued from Browning and one four month old pup rescued from Heart Butte that will be going to a different foster home. The rest at the shelter are all the rescued dogs," commented Hewitt. "There are currently 33 at the shelter, 1 in foster, making 34 available dogs."

Getting through August and seeing the success of their efforts in rescuing so many dogs is tremendous, "We would like to thank the community for its ongoing support of this mission. With only five kennels and being the only brick and mortar shelter in Blaine County, this is an undertaking like PAWS has never experienced. Our goal is to rescue 100% of the dogs on the property. Having community support that mission is paramount. If anyone would like to donate, the area most in need is veterinary bills. They can call Eastside Animal Hospital at 406-265-1558 and make a payment directly to them, or they can donate to us. The only dogs that are in kennels are ones that are post-surgery, and the very young pups with their mother. 16 dogs are being housed in the shelter. The other 18 are in the large runs. Arleen Rice was very generous to us by donating a small lean to for shade. The high school is also building a few things, and we hope to get some labor help to build more lean-to type shelter places," concluded Hewitt.


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