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Shawnee animal rescue ARC seeking help amid COVID-19

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Animal Rescue Center of Shawnee (ARC) helped five puppies dumped along the highway in a wire basket during a storm. They were fostered by a local groomer and sponsored by ARC until they were able to be transported to a rescue with fosters and owners already selected in Iowa.
The Animal Rescue Center of Shawnee (ARC) helped Princess, a grey one-year-old cat, who was staying with ARC until the owner could get into a new home. ARC paid for the vetting and spaying of Princess at no charge to the owner.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Shawnee animal rescues including Animal Rescue Center of Shawnee (ARC) have faced numerous challenges and are seeking help from the community.

According to Director of ARC Kay Heinz, the organization has seen a significant decrease in donations and financial help.

“Our spay and neuter clinics were canceled which was helping the community stray and feral cats,” Heinz said. 

The animal rescuer said the organization has not been able to hold special events because of COVID-19.

“We weren’t able to have any adoption fairs especially at PetSmart which we’re usually there a couple of times a month,” Heinz said. “PetSmart makes donations for every pet adoption that any organization affiliated with them has.” 

Heinz said because of this PetSmart cut down on their funding and ARC lost a large source of funding.

In addition, Heinz said the animal rescue has been overwhelmed with calls from members of the community who can’t keep their pets and attempt to put them in the care of ARC or seek some sort of help from the nonprofit. 

“We’ve had a lot of people calling because they can’t afford to feed their pet and we either try to help them with the food or the medical bills,” Heinz said. 

While things have been challenging, Heinz said ARC did have successful adoptions and were able to send some animals to their forever families.

“The more people were staying home the more they wanted to foster or adopt pets,” Heinz said. “We kind of had a pick up on adoptions even though we weren’t having fairs or fundraisers.” 

Heinz said about 34 cats and dogs were adopted between March 31 and July 15 which helped ARC receive funding from PetSmart again.

“All of that helps a little bit but everything has been dwindling down and our donations have been down because people can’t afford to make donations or purchase food or supplies or help in any matter like that,” Heinz said. 

The animal lover said ARC is in a critical situation because without funding it can’t keep caring for sick, abused and abandoned animals. 

“We’ve had lots of sick dogs that have been found in the woods or on the highway,” Heinz said. 

Heinz said ARC has sent animals out of state rescues and continues to try and help as many as they can.

In fact, Heinz said the organization is working on launching a feral cat program in which they would transport several feral cats wandering around the community and have them spay or neutered.

Heinz said she and other ARC workers would care for the cats after their surgery and make sure they are well before releasing them. 

“We’re hoping that is going to get off the ground and it’s a huge difference from what we’ve been able to do in the past,” Heinz said. “There just hasn’t been anybody around that’s been able to get this started.” 

Heinz said in addition to everything else ARC is hoping to receive some funding from the community for this program. 

“On our donations you can always go to our website which is and we have a Paypal sign in to make donations,” Heinz said. 

The animal rescuer said people can also donate and view ARC’s Facebook page to stay updated on all their activity. 

“All the rescues are hurting just like we have been and they’re trying their best to keep up with what’s coming down the pipe,” Heinz said. “There’s just so many dogs and cats.”

Heinz said she hopes the organization can get back on its feet and continue to help more animals in Pottawatomie County despite COVID-19. 

“We’re always having to dig into our own pockets to keep going...If we have to shut down for any reason there’s going to be more strays on the streets, there’s going to be more sick dogs and cats and the population is just going to get out of hand like it did before,” Heinz said.