Sunshine Bush, on behalf of OK Save a Dog, makes a trip to the Shawnee Animal Shelter several times a week to pick up dogs that might not otherwise have a second chance at life.
In the past six months, OK Save A Dog, founded and operated by Kim Bowers of Prague, has rescued 148 pets from the Shawnee Animal Shelter. Overall, OK Save a Dog takes in about 600 to 800 rescued dogs each year and works to find them homes, she said.
Animal Rescue Center of Shawnee, a non-profit rescue group, works with the city to promote animal welfare while providing area rescue groups like OK Save a Dog a voice in addressing the needs of unwanted, lost or abused animals, said Paul Heinz, president of ARC.
OK Save a Dog is one of the most successful of the rescue organizations, he said, and Bowers and Bush work to save as many of the dogs from the Shawnee Animal Shelter as possible.
Bowers, who said there is an extreme need for Shawnee residents to spay and neuter their pets "so this madness can stop one day," said spaying and neutering is the only way to fix the pet overpopulation problems.
Rescuers with a passion for the work they do, including OK Save A Dog, often pull animals from the Shawnee shelter when they have an opening at their facility, thereby saving many of the unwanted pets at the shelter from certain euthanasia there.
"These animals are often on the brink of their last day to find homes when OK Save a Dog arrives to scoop them up," Heinz said. "These pets are taken to the wonderful ranch-like atmosphere where they will be vetted, treated, spay or neutered, and then allowed to play in the open, green play yards as they wait for their forever home."
Bowers, who runs OK Save a Dog out of her rural Prague home on 40 acres, said all dogs are spayed or neutered and all vet work is done before the pets are adopted to pre- screened homes. Dogs have free roam of large yards on her property, she said, where they stay until a suitable adoptive home is found.
"Not just anyone can come get one of my dogs — they have to show they have a good dog owning history, a secure fence, and all other animals have to be spayed and neutered for the safety of the altered dog," Bowers said.
And while they try to help as many dogs as they can, Bowers said they are not a public facility and cannot take all dogs.
"The ARC and OK Save a Dog relationship has flourished over the past five years and the arrival of the OK Save a Dog van has become a staple for the Shawnee Shelter as it arrives to rescue pets each week," Heinz said.
Page 2 of 2 - Bush said she's been involved in the rescue with Bowers for the past five years.
"It's all about the animals," she said, adding she makes several trips to the shelter each week. About 90 percent of the animals they work to save come from the Shawnee Animal Shelter, she said.
"We're trying to save as many as we can," Bush said.
At any given time, there can be 150 dogs at the OK Save a Dog facility, with Bush and Bowers volunteering their time and service and relying on donations to operate. Most of their expenses are vet bills, Bush said, and it's not uncommon for them to spend $1,500 each month on dog food.
"I even have about 30 unplaceable dogs that will live here forever," Bowers said.
Heinz said the staff and facility at OK Save a Dog provides a backbone of support for the adoption of the animals for the Shawnee Shelter.
"ARC of Shawnee recognizes their efforts to aid in adoptions at the shelter and the part they play in the city of Shawnee's ongoing search for programs which address adoption avenues for the shelter animals," Heinz said.
These adoption programs, working in tandem with the ARC of Shawnee spay/neuter programs, are aimed at lowering the rise in unwanted pets within the city, Heinz added.
Bowers has a philosophy that she hopes will help will give shelter dogs a new leash on life.
"Never breed or buy while shelter dogs die," she said. "Not all dogs in shelters are bad dogs, or mutts. They just had bad owners."
ARC of Shawnee has recently supported OK Save a Dog in their fund-raising efforts to pay for a replacement van to transport pets to their facility from across the state by donating $500 toward that purchase.
Anyone seeking more information about OK Save a Dog, or would like to contribute to the efforts, can look online at www.oksaveadog.org. or on the OK Save a Dog Facebook page.
For more information on ARC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail or go online to www.arcshawnee.org.