Letter to Editor submitted to The Dahlonega Nugget:
As PAWS President, I have been actively seeking outside funds in an effort to keep the program going. After seeking numerous grants with no success, I contacted the GA Dept. of Agriculture that administers the Georgia Dog and Cat Sterilization Program. Funds for this program are donated by Georgia residents when they purchase spay/neuter license plates or make direct donations to the program.
As the legislation is written, these funds should be available for a spay/neuter program like PAWS. However, a Dept. of Agriculture rule limiting funds to shelters made PAWS ineligible since we only serve owned pets. Mr. Murrah of the Dept. acknowledged that the rule needed to be changed, and then, suggested that I ask the county to apply for PAWS.
Commissioners had already approved the county making a request of $7500 from the fund for spay/neuter in the county shelter. The maximum they could request was $10,000. Since the grant had not yet been submitted, I asked commissioners to include an additional $2500 for PAWS spay/neuter program.
When the proposal was made during the Work Session, commissioners rejected it alleging that money going through the county treasury to a non-profit would be considered a gratuity. I disagree.
I then proceeded to submit an application to the Dept. of Agriculture directly from PAWS. It will require bending the rule to accept the application but they have been known to bend a rule before. We’re doing whatever it takes to help people get their pets fixed and stop euthanasia in the county shelter.
Then like a gift from on high, two days later, PAWS Treasurer, Ivana Zaiko, called saying that PAWS had received a check for $10,000 from the DJ&T Foundation.
When I submitted that particular grant request, I had little hope that our North Georgia community would be so fortunate. Most work on the application had been completed when I saw a sentence suggesting the grants were being discontinued. So I asked for $10,000, signed and mailed the application.
The Foundation was established in 1995, by TV talk show host, Bob Barker, with a goal of providing grants to fund low-cost spay/neuter services or voucher programs. His concern was that with so many dogs and cats born, there are simply not enough homes for them, leading to mistreatment and euthanization. The DJ&T Foundation was named in memory of Barker’s wife, Dorothy Jo, and his mother, Matilda (Tilly).
PAWS record of successfully carrying out a spay/neuter program with a plan for operating into the future seems to be what’s needed to attract funding. This $10,000 award is a testament to the contributions of PAWS volunteers, our great veterinarians and the wonderful pet owners and rescuers who use PAWS’ program.
Emily Lewy, PAWS President