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Paws & Claws wants to keep lost animals local

October 31, 2018 GMT

Pets want to reunite with their families just as much as people do after natural disasters, according to officials at Paws & Claws Adoption Center.

“We have seen so many examples where the pets just don’t make it home,” said Rick Porter, board president of Paws & Claws Adoption Center, which is an organization operated by the Platte Valley Humane Society. “We care so much about the bond between pets and their owners that we don’t want to see that happen.”

The Paws & Claws Fall Festival was held for the first time on Sunday at Wunderlich’s Catering in efforts to raise funds and gather volunteers to help set up a system for disaster preparedness. The program will help keep lost animals sheltered locally if natural disasters like tornadoes, floods and ice storms happen.

Porter said several animals are left homeless in the wake of these disasters and many times end up at various shelters around the nation because of local space constraints. Because of this, he said the majority of these animals don’t make it back home to their owners.

“But, if we were to have something like that and we have a lot of animals, we don’t want them to get shipped somewhere else,” Porter said. “We want to keep them in the community so that their owners can find them easily and we can take care of them.”

Funds collected from the event are going toward purchasing equipment and supplies like computers, power generators, tents and spotlights.

Craig and Janet Breitkreutz of C&J Services, 3420 E 23rd St. E B, donated a trailer to house equipment and land space to shelter animals.

“If we have all the animals in one area instead of scattered all over then everybody will know where to go to look for their lost animals,” said Jan Berry, manager of Paws & Claws Adoption Center.

Platte Valley Humane Society Executive Director Deb Potter said the program will serve residents throughout Platte County. Potter said the organization has begun working with Tim Hofbauer, director of Columbus and Platte County Emergency Management, to put together a system.

Volunteers will be trained to ensure they are prepared with the necessary skills to respond to natural disasters. Sheltered animals will be identified and matched to their owners.

Efforts to raise funds does not end at the event. Members also plan to promote the program further during community events and presentations throughout the year.

The specific launch date of the program has yet to be determined.

People can also donate items like leashes, collars, paper towels, blankets, gas cards and toys, in addition to cash donations.

Those wishing to donate to the program and organization are encouraged to visit Paws & Claws Adoption Center, 2124 13th St., or visit www.pawsandclawsne.org/donate.

Porter said board members also wanted to introduce a more casual and family-oriented event for people to participate in, in addition to the organization’s more formal annual Fur Ball that takes place in the spring.

Schuyler Police Chief K.C. Bang and Officer Michael Mejstrik were the main speakers during the event. They spoke about the department’s K-9 unit and introduced Oden, a narcotic detection dog.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to participate in a silent auction and take a ride on a mechanical bull.

This was attendee Nila Novotny’s first time attending a Paws & Claws event. In the past, the Columbus native said she’s rescued several animals within the community for the organization, so she understands the need.

“I think it’s great and I’ve learned a lot from the police,” Novotny said. “I thought that was very interesting.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.