Pilot story and photos by Lynn Davis
Town and Country Veterinary Clinic's third annual Paws and Prints Day was hailed a success after raising more than $2,000 to be shared between Curry County Animal Shelter and South Coast Humane Society.
Veterinary Assistant Jen Malter came up with the idea to bring pets and people together for one day during the celebration of National Pet Week.
"I am so happy everyone had such a good time," she said.
Malter was appreciative of the amount, and quality, of donations provided this year by more than 50 area businesses and individuals.
"I was really impressed with the support from my staff and from the community. Everybody, together, made it a success," she said. "We really want to make a point of thanking our sponsors."
Dr. Karen Laidley also appreciated the response from the community, yet she placed a good portion of the thanks with Malter herself.
"She is beyond belief awesome," Laidley said. "In the beginning it was just this teeny-weeny thing, and look at what its grown into now. She is the coordinator extraordinaire."
Malter believes teamwork was the most important factor in pulling off the event.
"We're so excited with the turnout," Malter said.
Last year was a hit as well, but was nothing compared to what she saw on Saturday, she said. The turnout was so large, in fact, it caught volunteers by surprise.
"We went through 30 pounds of hamburger in the first hour, we had to run out and get some more" she reported.
Although lunch, courtesy of Ray's Food Place and Delaney's Bakery, was popular, stealing the limelight were the petting zoo and pony rides. Children flocked to the various exhibits, giggling with delight as they discovered creatures big and small, cute and fluffy, and scaly and strange.
Kennel assistant SharRon Hallman helped out by providing entertainment for the day. She packed up the family farm and brought them to the clinic for the petting zoo. Staff members and clients also provided animals.
"Jack, the rooster, has been having a great time," said Hallman. "He loves kids."
"We have a lot of kids here this year," she said. "They've been getting slimed by the calves all day. We have been letting the kids feed them their bottles."
At times, it was difficult to determine who was feeding whom. At one point, Hallman's son, Caleb, decided he would rather have the bottle than feed it to a calf. It was a struggle, but his mother prevailed by providing a knuckle for her son to nurse on while she held the bottle for the calf.
Chris Hudson's 4-year-old son, John, was enamored with one of the tortoises brought by exotic animal rehabilitator, BJ Farris.
Hudson explained how the family had to leave their 30 year-old Texas Desert Tortoise, "Spunky," six months ago, when they moved up to Brookings from Southern California.
"He's in our will," Hudson reported. "They can live up to 100 years or more."
Farris brought other critters such as hedgehogs, iguanas and sugar gliders.
Farris has been taking in exotic animal rescues since February 2000, and had a few hints to share with the audience.
During her presentation, she advised parents to do their research before deciding to bring home an exotic pet such as a turtle or reptile.
Children can often be impulsive when shopping for a pet, and are not always aware of the special needs of their prospective critters. Some may need special diets, lighting or atmospheric conditions to keep them in good health, she explained.
Farris added that animal owners should always wash their hands before and after handling their pet to avoid getting bitten or contracting an illness.
Although Paws and Prints Day was a hit, the true success story is seen with the many animals who benefit from the extra dollars sent their way.
"It brings in a lot of extra funding to help maintain the quality standards at the shelter," said Steve Nagel, Curry County animal control officer, in regard to the importance of this yearly fundraiser.
"He really fought hard to keep it open. He's a great advocate," said Malter, who was pleased with the increased donation the clinic was able to offer this year.
Because of county budgetary restrictions, Nagel is the only officer employed by the shelter, although a few volunteers help out whenever they can. The facility, Nagel said, does not receive many donations, and appreciates any assistance. The event raised $1,000 for the shelter.
McGruff the crime dog and Eddie Eagle visited with children and discussed crime prevention and gun safety.
VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) representatives Larry and Ruth Carter were available to answer questions from parents, help with fingerprinting and photo kits, and distribute "Safety-City" bags containing "need to know" information on keeping children safe.
Katie O'Hara, receptionist at the clinic, was surprised with how many dog baths she gave.
O'Hara and her helper, Erin Cummins, said they were happy to have been able to help out and were pleased people were taking part in the many different activities, such as the dog wash.
"This year, we did a lot more baths than we've done in the past," said O'Hara. "It's definitely gotten larger. It probably has something to do with the nice weather."
Other activities included a cat adoption clinic, courtesy of the South Coast Humane Society (also receiving $1,000 from the days proceeds), a dog adoption clinic, silent auction, raffles, medical demonstrations, pet micro-chipping and a pet food drive. Tours of the veterinary clinic, whose 10th anniversary was also being celebrated, were given as well.
Included in the crowd, were the winners of Town and Country's essay contest and a coloring competition.
Coloring Contest winners for kindergarten through third grade were Nakiah Collins, first, and Bailey Crawford, second. In the fourth through sixth grade category, placing first was Molly Moncrief, and second went to Josh Carter. The prizes for first place in both groups were $50 and a T-shirt, and second places were given $25 and a T-shirt.
First place in the essay contest for the category of ages 18 and older was given to Monica Calvillo, with second prize going to Andi Hart. For the 17 years and younger group, Keanna Sparks earned first place and BreeAnna Smithson took second. First place winners received $50, a National Pet Week T-Shirt, a leash and collar, and a month's supply of pet food. Second place earned $25 and a T-shirt.
Essay writers explored the National Pet Week theme chosen this year by the American Veterinary Medicine Association which was "Pets Make the Difference."