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Construction of new animal shelter to begin

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska community is about to take the next step in caring for abandoned and neglected animals -- the construction of a new, updated animal shelter on a parcel east of Highway 60/99 and north of the current Osage Casino location.

Local veterinarian Jan Johnston-Tharp will be the contractor for the construction job, and her husband, Brian Tharp, will build the building. About 3,100 square feet in size, the new shelter will be a Mueller metal building and it is anticipated to be completed by spring 2021. Purina Partnerships and Satterwhite Log Homes are supporting the project.

The shelter will include 32 combination indoor/outdoor kennels, and a cat room. It is being built as an upgrade from an older shelter operated by the city of Pawhuska, which is a 20-by-20 cinder block building. The city has made improvements to the old shelter in recent years, but the dog pens there have no outdoor access.

"This is going to be state-of-the-art," Jan Johnston-Tharp said of the new shelter. It will help the community respond to what appears to be a continual need for care for stray and abandoned animals.

Susie Owens, of 4Paws Rescue, said care had been provided for 92 dogs in the previous 71 days. Owens is also a volunteer worker at the current shelter.

"We're averaging about a dog a day," Owens said.

She expressed hope the community will find a new, updated animal shelter to be a source of civic pride.

Owens and Johnston-Tharp also explained that while support has been obtained for the new animal shelter building and kennels, additional financial contributions will be needed to cover the cost of numerous items to be used to operate the shelter.