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PetFinder Library


Pet Angel Tree helps four-legged friends
By April Wilkerson, Staff Writer
Web posted November 30, 2007 Shawnee News-Star

Family pets often find their own gifts of chew toys or catnip under the Christmas tree. However, the spirit of holiday giving extends to those animals that don't yet have a home.

The Pet Angel Tree is back for a second year in Shawnee. Four area groups devoted to animals will receive goods donated through the Pet Angel Tree, which is located at Shawnee Mall through Christmas. The groups are F.A.S.T.hound Greyhound Adoption, Canine Companions for Independence, S.P.A.R. (Saving Pets at Risk) and the Animal Safety Center.

To participate, people simply pick a pet angel ornament off the tree, which lists the organization's name. A nearby sign suggests items to buy, such as leashes, collars, toys, cat food and dog food. The items should be returned to the Customer Service area of the mall. "We had quite a bit of stuff donated last year, and we hope this year to have an even bigger event," said Dawn Ramsey, a local volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence.

Jessica Lantagne, right, holds her greyhounds Bavarian and Cleo that she adopted through the organization F.A.S.T.hound Greyhound Adoption. At left, Linda McMahan holds Delores, a puppy she's raising for Canine Companions for Independence. Their two organizations are among four that are featured on the Pet Angel Tree at Shawnee Mall.

F.A.S.T.hound Greyhound Adoption: The F.A.S.T. in F.A.S.T.hound stands for "Foster, Adopt, Support, Teach." The group has been working on behalf of greyhounds since July 2005, said Jessica Lantagne, president of the group. The organization is volunteer-run and non-profit. The greyhounds are mostly former racing dogs that need homes once their careers are over, Lantagne said.

The group is responsible for spaying and neutering the dogs, getting their shots, teeth cleaned, wormed and on heartworm preventative. Volunteers with the group provide foster homes for the dogs while looking for good, permanent homes.

People mistakenly think that greyhounds are high-energy because they used to race, Lantagne said, but they're actually very calm and sweet. They also make good house pets, she said. Greyhounds come in 18 colors and 55 color combinations.

Volunteers with F.A.S.T.hound Greyhound Adoption are at Shawnee Mall from noon to 4 p.m. every third Saturday to raise awareness about the dogs. Much more information is available online at www.fasthound.org.

S.P.A.R. (Saving Pets at Risk): S.P.A.R. is a two-year-old group devoted to rescuing dogs and cats in Shawnee. In the past two years, more than 300 animals have been rescued, received vet care and been placed in homes, said Roberta Wortham, president. Members of S.P.A.R. also have been working with the city of Shawnee to establish a related group, the Animal Rescue Center (ARC). Plans are to build a new facility next to the Shawnee Animal Shelter where animals can live if they've not been adopted. This will designate the city's shelter as a "no killer" shelter, Wortham said. Currently, unadopted animals are euthanized each week, she said.

The Pet Angel Tree particularly helps S.P.A.R. with the food it needs to feed animals that are in foster care, Wortham said. "We encourage people to remember pets at Christmas," Wortham said, "and to remember the organizations that are working so hard to rescue and save the lives of all animals on the streets."

For more information about how to get involved in S.P.A.R., go online to www.sparshawnee.org.

Canine Companions for Independence (CCI): This is a national organization with local volunteers, and it differs somewhat from the other organizations on the Pet Angel Tree. CCI provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities. Several Shawnee residents are involved with CCI in a variety of ways. Dawn Ramsey has an assistance dog, Nero, and she coordinates local volunteer and fundraising efforts for CCI, including Mutt Strutt. Chad Beard has a companion dog, Ceylon, who accompanies him throughout his days, and Linda McMahan is serving as a volunteer puppy raiser for Delores, who will be professionally trained by CCI after she's grown.
The local volunteer group of CCI is called Red Earth Champions.

Ramsey said donations from the Angel Tree will be offered to the regional chapter of CCI; if they're not needed, the items will be used in local events.

For more information about CCI, go online to www.cci.org.

Animal Safety Center: This 25-year-old animal rescue organization is run by Kathy Welch of Meeker. Welch said she is caring for about 76 dogs and cats right now, and she's had to stop taking in more animals. Many of the animals are disabled, have medical needs or are unadoptable, and Welch is devoted to giving them a place to live out their lives in safety and care.

"In the last 25 years, I'd like to think we've made a big difference in the lives of cats and dogs," she said. Welch said she particularly needs cat food and cat litter for the Animal Safety Center.