Animal shelter donations sought

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Hominy animal control officer Josh Toon is shown here with “Boomer,” one of his four personal dogs. Toon is helping lead an effort to raise money for a new animal shelter for the community. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

HOMINY — The city of Hominy is looking for animal lovers willing to help it raise money for a new animal shelter. The city council has earmarked a 10,000-square-foot parcel of land near the airport for an animal shelter that will have 12 dog runs, municipal officials said.

Hominy does not have an official no-kill ordinance, but city government’s current approach to handling homeless animals is no-kill. Josh Toon, the animal control officer, says any dog that can be adopted to a new home will receive that opportunity.

The existing Hominy animal shelter has four dog runs and isn’t really a secure facility. Toon says he generally doesn’t place small dogs in any of the chainlink runs because they could easily escape.

City Manager Jimmie Ratliff II said the new shelter will be more far-sighted in intent. The old shelter was really just intended to hold animals for a short period, until those that were unclaimed could be euthanized, he said.

Diana Garrett, the city’s information officer, said Bucks Animal Rescue, or BAR, has been established to raise funds for the new shelter and to assist Toon in recruiting volunteers and organizing community programs, including educational events.

Toon will be chairman of a BAR advisory board for the shelter, and some people in the community have already agreed to serve on that board, Garrett said. The board will probably hold its initial meeting sometime in the first part of May, she said.

“This kind of thing shows the outside world what kind of community we are,” Garrett said, commenting on the progressive, humane spirit Hominy intends to foster and project. BAR has state and federal tax ID numbers and is in the process of receiving official non-profit status, she said.

The organization will raise money for the shelter, have it built and donate it to the city of Hominy, Garrett said. The new shelter is to be constructed close to the intersection of State Highway 99 and Ballard Road, north of a lagoon, she said. There are no homes close to the site, she said.

“This is new to all of us,” Garrett said, explaining it hasn’t been determined exactly how much money will be needed. Hominy is looking at probably having a metal building with a few amenities inside, she said.

Toon, who has been animal control officer since 2016, said he has received support from a variety of rescue groups, volunteers and donors. Donors have provided items such as collars, leashes, food and treats. This is crucial because Toon is committed to making sure each dog that is adopted into a new home is outfitted with a new collar and leash, and has a bath.

“I want them to look presentable,” he said. “They go to my house and get bathed.”

Toon is also the loving head of household for four dogs of his own. There are two German shepherds — brothers named “Boomer” and “Sooner;” a blue heeler called “Buck;” and an aging, grandma pit bull to whom Toon refers as his “Baby Girl.”

Toon says families willing to foster dogs have been very important to his ability to take a no-kill approach, and he voices gratitude to community members who have expressed an interest in helping to finance the new shelter.

Garrett said Toon has frequently opened his wallet in service of his principles.

“He has spent a lot of his own money while he succeeds in finding them new homes,” Garrett said. And Toon adds that he has received invaluable aid from animal activists such as Susie Owens, who is a shelter volunteer for Pawhuska. Owens has proven successful at finding out-of-state rescues to take many dogs from Osage County, and Toon said she has helped him to find new homes for dogs.

Like Toon, Owens is known for personally paying for needed items that otherwise couldn’t be purchased.

Toon said he has made an effort to develop an ongoing, informal collaboration between dog-rescue volunteers throughout the area — from Hominy south to Cleveland, and north to Pawhuska.

Garrett said there is a phased plan for the new Hominy shelter, and she voiced excitement about the positive energy the project is generating in the community.

“It really engages the community,” she said.