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Washington Area Humane Society sounds call for help

| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007

Washington Area Humane Society has the Help Wanted sign out, but this posting has nothing to do with job opportunities at the shelter on Route 136 in Eighty Four.

Rather, the humane society is seeking financial assistance to cover necessary, and costly, surgery for two cats, Ouna and Patrick, who each have broken legs.

Faye Kennedy, volunteer coordinator and a member of the board of directors at the humane society, said the injuries are "complicated breaks which require plates and pins, an orthopedic specialty."

"Each operation costs between $1,200 and $1,800," Kennedy said.

To help defray the costs of those surgical procedures, WAHS is making a plea to the public.

"We are asking for donations of $5 or more to help finance these two operations," Kennedy said. "People, all animal lovers, to be sure have responded well to similar situations involving our animals in the past. Hopefully, they will open their hearts, and wallets, to share the load and take the deduction to help these two cats."

Kennedy said the organization "would love to be able to pay for every procedure, test and operation, but it is not economically feasible."

"Unlike most people who know where their next paycheck is coming from, we don't know if we will make $1,000 or $10,000 each month," Kennedy said. "This is why we rely on individual donors to help pay our utility bills, medicine for our animals and the staff who takes cares of them."

Kennedy said it is "very difficult" for WAHS to consider spending $3,600 on two animals when more than 150 are housed at the no-kill shelter.

"The alternative of amputation is not very palatable, but is a reasonable choice in these cases," Kennedy said. "We have had many three-legged dogs and cats happily hop out to new homes. It makes sense, but we would prefer that to be the last resort."

Emphasizing the final surgical alternative, Kennedy said the humane society has "the sweetest little kitten" named Kenya who was plagued with a broken pelvis. Kenya had a back leg amputated last week.

"The leg could never be repaired," Kennedy said. "It was sticking straight out and was getting in the poor thing's way. But (amputation) was the only solution in Kenya's case. We are hoping for a more positive outcome for Ouna and Patrick. That would be preferred."

Kennedy, who also serves as administrator of the humane society's Web site, said the organization does not have a special fund designated for special or emergency surgeries for its animals.

"We cannot squirrel away funds for future medical catastrophes; it's simply a matter of economics," she said. "If we tied up the money, we would have no shelter at all. The money is spent responsibly month after month to keep us functioning. And we rely on the generosity and thoughtfulness of the public to help us do that."

Kennedy also admitted that stories about ailing animals often become "rather routine."

"The public would likely burn out from hearing about every case we and other shelters have," she said. "A broken leg is not uncommon, but it is expensive."

Kennedy said the humane society, now in its 102nd year of operation, will let the public know when it hits the $3,600 goal for operations for Ouna and Patrick. She also noted that money raised beyond that goal will be used to cover other expenses for caring for the animals. These include, but are not limited to, medications, immunizations and other medical necessities; blankets and bedding, and food.

"If this method works well, by spreading the financial load, we will ask for (public) help from time to

time on a case-by-case basis," she said. "We only ask for what we need for the animals in need and hope that with a little bit of help from a whole lot of people that we can creatively solve this very difficult financial conundrum."

Contributions to the effort for Ouna and Patrick can be made by making checks payable to WAHS,

designated for "Kitty Breaks," and sent to Washington Area Humane Society, 527 Route 136, Box 66, Eighty Four, PA 15336 or by credit card through Paypal at . Additional information also is available at 724-222-7387.

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