Marley, a local canine, is the recipient of a unique honor in Leavenworth — she is the 10,000th animal to be sterilized through the free spay/neuter program offered by Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society.

Marley, a local canine, is the recipient of a unique honor in Leavenworth — she is the 10,000th animal to be sterilized through the free spay/neuter program offered by Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society.
The milestone is also a great honor for LAWS members who began this program seven years ago when Andrea Mamaux, former president of LAWS, shared her vision and passion for the general welfare of animals through a spay/neuter program with the other members of the board.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Andrea and the other board members at that time saw that this was possibly the only way to encourage some people to spay and neuter their pets,” said LAWS member and Kansas Country Store owner, Don Brown. “The number of unplanned litters that were being born in the area was astronomical.”
Marley and her human companion, Michael Kirby, were honored at Kansas Country Store recently with a variety of treats and toys. (Kirby was excluded from the treats/toys rewards but did receive movie passes.)

LAWS members never imagined that in just seven years they would hit the 10,000 mark. But Brown believes that people in the community saw the need for this program to be successful. Local residents helped LAWS promote the program and encouraged other people to take advantage of it. LAWS members’ dedication to educate community members on the importance of reducing the number of unwanted litters of cats and dogs was unwavering.

“I don't believe myself or any of the other LAWS members realized how quickly this program would catch on,” said Brown.  “It is very rewarding to see it become so successful so quickly. It says a lot about the community for the cooperation and willingness to address the overpopulation of pets issue. Since the beginning days of LAWS, the purpose was to reduce and hopefully eliminate the unnecessary suffering and death of pets. This goal includes many different areas of need.”
He also said that even though Leavenworth is in some ways a transient community, there is a large percentage of the town that has been here for many years and who want to see both the animals’ and community’s conditions improved.

“Spay and neuter is important to the entire community,” said Brown. “When we look at 10,000 spays and neuters, we know the total number of litters born had to have been reduced by tens of thousands over this last seven years because of Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society’s free spay/neuter program. This program, by lowering the number of pets in the area, has undoubtedly saved Leavenworth Animal Control and the community an enormous amount of money in the care and control of the overpopulation. Much more important is the number of pets that were not subjected to being born without a home, or ended up in a shelter or worse.”

A USA Today article cites that pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest. According to the report, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.

The animal welfare group hosts numerous events each year which enable the organization to help animals, including fundraisers like the spay-ghetti dinner at Luigi’s and other local restaurants such as IHOP and Granite City. Funds are also collected at Dillon’s Give Back to the Community Program, United Way, Deena Shroyer School of Dance, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts programs, Christmas pet pictures courtesy of Jay Carey, Trails West Golf Course golf tournament, Good Search, Pendant for Paws, donation jars around town, yard sales and Roberta’s Pebble Pets and Portrait Tiles.
The group also hosts the annual Blessing of the Animals with St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Brown said, “The Blessing of the Animals is an annual event that holds a very deep and special meaning for myself and many people that attend it every year. Everyone that believes in God and his love for the animals that he created will understand the reason that so many people appreciate the opportunity to bring their pet to this very special event.”

Funds raised by these events also help LAWS’ most recent effort, a cat adoption room at Kansas Country Store.  “It was a great idea and it has proven to be effective in rehoming a great number of cats (and a few dogs),” said Brown. “Although it is a small room it has been very successful in its two-plus years of operation.”
While controlling overpopulation of dogs and cats remains the primary reason for spay/neuter, it also offers other benefits to animals including better health and lowering their chance of getting cancer. Their chances of being injured or killed are also reduced because the procedure lowers their desire to roam.

LAWS members believe the best advice for keeping companion animals healthy and safe starts with good nutrition, parasite control, vaccinations and proper training.
“Good sound nutrition includes quality food with little or no grains or fillers and adequate water at all times,” said Brown. “It is not always true, but most pet foods that you see advertised are not as good as you are led to believe. Many of those companies spend their money on advertising instead of  good ingredients for their food. Parasite control is very important. Fleas, ticks, and internal parasites can all damage the general health of a pet.

“There are cases when the pet’s life is even in danger when the parasites increase to a number that overwhelms the pet’s system and can cause severe health problems and occasionally even death. Vaccination for the prevention of illness is vital. Proper training is an important part of good pet care.  Pets should be under control at all times to avoid hazardous situations that could cause serious injuries or worse.”
LAWS members have helped tens of thousands of pets by rescue and re-homing over the last 26 years. “Thousands have been helped financially in some way over the years. Many more than we could document,” said Brown.

“LAWS has helped provide pet food to Animal Control and to hundreds of individuals. Recently the Free Pet Food Pantry was started by Carol Turner, a LAWS board member. She saw a need after LAWS rescued and brought back to life, two dogs that were so malnourished that they were unconscious when they were found. We encourage anyone that needs food for their pets to come to our free food pantry. There are many other things happening every day with LAWS. There are a dozen volunteers working daily to help our local pets.”

Brown said he couldn’t begin to list all the animals over the years that LAWS members have seen suffering from injuries, hunger or abuse. And each one has carved out a special place in the group’s history.
LAWS will continue to expand their programs and be ever on the alert for opportunities to commence new and better projects for animals and the community. And they will focus their energy on their communal goal of ensuring the day will come when no pets are homeless, hungry or neglected.

“This is a very committed group of volunteers,” said Brown. “The best part for me is the honor of being a small part of what they do. The dedication and desire to help the animals and the community is constant. LAWS’ board members and volunteers are amazing. They have victories, success and unfortunately some disappointments. Not every effort turns out as well as we would hope, but they don’t stop.
“They tackle the next pet’s needs with the same dedication that has held this group together for 26 years.”