Citizens Step In To Help Homeless Animals

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
There is no animal shelter in Warsaw. There are a few shelters outside of the county, but most are underfunded and often at full capacity. Animal lovers in Benton County try and find homes for strays or help unite owners with lost pets by networking with their resources. But the task is great and many animals fall through the cracks.
There are success stories regarding the adoption of some of these animals. Lauren Refett of Warsaw, rescued an abandoned dog after her friend reported on Face Book that it was going to be euthanized. The dog had been dropped off at a business in town by someone who could no longer care for the animal.
“I was told that she is a Mastiff mix,” said Refett. “She is a little over a year old now and doing fine. I have named her Mattie, and she gets along with my other dog “Bella.”
Cole Camp Chief of Police, Stephen Phillips tries to help with the local problem by manning a small kennel that will house two or three dogs when they are picked up in Cole Camp.
However many animals are not so lucky. A couple recently bought some land in Edwards and lived there, in a trailer, with their children, a mother dog and its pups. Not long afterwards, the family disappeared leaving the trailer and the dogs without notifying anyone. A few volunteers have been trying to feed the puppies, and apparently the mother dog has died. No one has stepped up to adopt the puppies and their future is unknown.
Some of the city’s large stray cat populations are fed by volunteers who visit the Truman Dam where many strays live, or they provide food for those hanging around businesses. Other people trap them and take them to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered. But they are still without homes and subject to becoming prey to other animals.
 Janet Perry has spent her life helping owners find lost dogs, and helping dogs that aren’t lost find homes. She is the administrator of Angels For Paws Lost and Found. The organization has a Face Book page that helps her with her volunteer work.  She and many volunteers recently were instrumental in locating a lost dog named Hank, who belonged to a couple from Texas. The dog had found a temporary home with Kurt and Jeanene Bagley and their 8-year-old son Reed, and often ate “off the land” before the Bagley’s found out who it belonged to.
Perry offered some advice about what to do when a stray animal is encountered. 1. Try and contain it and keep it safe by putting it in a kennel or something in your home. 2. Contact your local Face Book and post a picture of the animal to see if it can be identified.  3. Call the Sheriff. 4. Contact the radio station and the Benton County Enterprise. 5. An animal may have a microchip, so the owner can be tracked if the animal is scanned by a veterinarian or pet shop.
However, Perry said to be cautious about people who say they would like to have the animal, because dog fighting rings are sometimes looking for free dogs and may offer to take a stray. (An anonymous dog lover in the county said that some people are looking for dogs to take to Arkansas to be sold for research.) Perry said not to give a complete description of the stray animal, leaving some things out that only the real owner will know about.  Another anonymous animal rescue volunteer in the county suggested that a small re-homing fee could be charged for the animal. If a person is not legitimately interested in giving an animal a good home, he or she would probably not want to pay a fee.
Upon finding a stray animal, it is important to know that the Missouri Department of Agriculture requires that a stray animal must be kept for 7 to 10 days before giving it away. For more information from the Animal Health Division, contact them by phone at 573-751-3377.
The Broadway Barks website reported that the enormous pet homelessness problem in the U.S. continues. The animal rescue organization researched and compiled top facts about this problem, and a few of these follow.
There are roughly 70 million stray cats and dogs living in the U.S. Only about six to eight million of these animals find their way into the nation’s 3,500 shelters each year. Only 10 percent of animals entering shelters have been spayed or neutered. According to North Shore Animal League’s Spay USA, one un-spayed female dog and her offspring can create 67,000 dogs in six years, and one un-spayed female cat and her offspring can produce 2,072,514 kittens in eight years. Only three to four million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year.  Nearly half of all animals that arrive in U.S. shelters are euthanized because there is a lack of space and adopters.
Broadway Barks recommends that we say adopt pets from animal shelters or rescue organizations, before considering a pet store.  They also recommend that pets be spayed and neutered to ensure they will not reproduce and contribute to the problem. We can also support groups working to solve the animal homeless ness problem.
Cindi Zimmerman, who owns a pet sitting business in Warsaw called Elite Pet Care Services, is an animal lover who has been actively trying to find homes for strays that she encounters.  She does not take in stray animals, but works with individuals and groups to try and find solutions to the stray problem. She talked to Sheriff Eric Knox about the need for an animal shelter, and he said that if a new jail was built, he would love to eventually get an attached animal shelter where the animals could be taken care of by exceptional inmates.  This would be something positive for the inmates to do. Prisons across the U.S. have instituted such programs that have saved money, and benefitted the inmates and pets.
Warsaw has not always been without an animal shelter. The last one was disbanded in 2005 while owing money for utilities and vet bills. An organization called “Critters ‘N Crisis” formed in 2010 to raise funds for a shelter, but it was unable to reach its goal. Last year, a petition was sent to the Benton County Commissioners requesting the building of a shelter, but the building of a new jail is the priority for now.
Meanwhile, in order to help a lost or found dog, go to to list the dog and print a flyer to distribute. Go to to browse the database of stray and found pets, report a missing pet and find helpful tips to bring a lost animal home. For a local group – Angels For Paws Lost & Found -- go to It is a Benton County and surrounding area page that tries to bring awareness of missing, stolen and dumped pets in the local area. But, people can post from anywhere in Missouri. Remember to put where the pet is lost/found on your post.