Pawhuska officials upgrade facility

Robert Smith
Paxton, a young Whippet mix, recently recovered from Canine Parvovirus while under the care of animal rescuer Susie Owens of Pawhuska. Paxton will now have a chance for a “forever home.” Photo courtesy of Susie Owens.

A crew of city officials, municipal employees and volunteers worked Saturday to make basic improvements in Pawhuska’s animal shelter, which interim City Manager Larry Eulert said had reached the point of being in a condition he thought neither human nor beast should have to endure.

“The conditions of the dog pound were deplorable,” Eulert said, explaining that he, Mayor Roger Taylor, firefighters, other city employees and volunteers joined together to do something about it.

“By ordinance we cannot hold animals more than three days,” Eulert said. After that, dogs are either euthanized or a charitable animal-welfare group called Pawhuska Pound Pals takes them and helps to find them homes.

Susie Owens, of Pawhuska, and Vicki Godbehere, of Bartlesville, coordinate the activities of Pawhuska Pound Pals. Ms. Owens said they have taken 491 dogs from the city of Pawhuska in the past two and a half years, and have also helped with dogs from other Osage County communities such as Fairfax, Shidler, Hominy and Wynona. The total number of dogs they have rescued is 638.

Owens said she does a lot of the leg work to help the dogs, and Godbehere generally handles networking and public relations. The dogs they rescue here in Osage County go to other rescues and to homes in states such as Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Arkansas.

Eulert said the crew that worked Saturday on Pawhuska’s animal shelter, which is located east of downtown, not far from Dollar General, performed a range of tasks. They hosed out the shelter, and worked on cages, walls and ceilings, Eulert said. The crew also treated surfaces with bleach and washed the area down again. Additionally, work was done on ceiling insulation and an air-conditioner was installed, he said.

“It was more than ugly,” Eulert said of the conditions that the work crew set about remedying. He said that he is looking at possibilities for the construction of a new animal shelter for Pawhuska, and is obtaining price information.

“We spend a minimum of $100 a dog before they ever leave Pawhuska,” Owens said. Pawhuska Pound Pals makes sure rescued dogs are vaccinated and have received care for various medical problems. She said that she has treated 64 dogs for canine parvovirus, a viral illness that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite. Of the 64, she has lost just 16, she said.

The most-recent beneficiary of her parvo treatment is a Whippet mix named Paxton, who left her care Monday morning. Paxton got down to just 9 pounds, but has rebounded and weighed 16 pounds upon his departure, Owens said.

“I cried for three hours, but I’m good,” Owens said, acknowledging she becomes very close to the rescued dogs. “I don’t send them unless they go to good homes.”

She said that she, personally, has provided a foster home for numerous of the rescued dogs, particularly the smaller adults and the puppies, for which the Pawhuska animal shelter was completely unsuitable. The existing animal shelter is a small, aging cinder block building.

Owens said she is hopeful that Pawhuska residents will chip in financially to help make sure their community soon has a new, improved animal shelter.