Shelter construction progresses despite shortages

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The construction of a new animal shelter for Pawhuska is progressing, even though the availability of construction materials has been a problem, veterinarian Jan Johnston-Tharp said Oct. 7.

She added that subcontractors on the animal shelter construction project have reported having trouble hiring enough workers to provide needed work crews.

The construction of a new shelter with more than 30 dog runs is ongoing at a location along Highway 60/99, not far from the current Osage Casino. The new shelter facility is also expected to contain space for medical treatment of animals, space for reception and administrative needs, as well as space for food preparation.

In late February 2021, the hoped-for completion target was August, but unanticipated economic conditions have pushed that back, and Johnston-Tharp said it is no longer clear exactly when the project will be completed.

Concrete has been poured for an area where a Mueller building is to be erected and indoor kennels are to be installed. More concrete is anticipated to be poured as the overall project continues.

The new shelter is to be about 3,100 square feet overall. The old shelter that it is replacing is a 20-foot-by-20-foot cinder block building owned by the city of Pawhuska. The city has made some improvements to the old facility in recent years, but it provides far less in accommodations than the new one will.

Susie Owens, of the Pawhuska Animal Welfare (4 Paws) rescue, said the need for a better shelter remains as great as ever. In the previous four weeks, the rescue had provided service to 58 dogs in the Pawhuska/Osage County area, she said.

Additionally, rescue and shelter groups in the region are generally full or nearly full right now, Owens said. Pawhuska Animal Welfare transports dogs to out-of-state rescue organizations that find new homes for them. 4 Paws is also trying to cope right now with a flow of homeless felines.

Owens works as a shelter volunteer at the old city shelter, and frequently spends weekends transporting homeless animals to rescue groups elsewhere.

Pawhuska Animal Welfare (4 Paws) accepts donations to help with its operations, but Owens has been known to fund rescue efforts on an out-of-pocket basis when necessary. The local rescue received an important donation several months ago, when a resident made possible the acquisition of a van for the transportation of homeless animals in honor of his late wife.

"It hauls the right amount of dogs that we need and it's reliable," Owens said of the donated van.