Don Brown is co-owner of Kansas Country Store in Leavenworth, and a founder of Help Overpopulation of Pets Economically, Inc. HOPE. He is also a member of Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society. In this Q5, he talks about the 25th anniversary of LAWS.

Don Brown is co-owner of Kansas Country Store in Leavenworth, and a founder of Help Overpopulation of Pets Economically, Inc. HOPE. He is also a member of Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society. In this Q5, he talks about the 25th anniversary of LAWS.

1. Don, how will the Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society celebrate its 25th anniversary. When and where will it be?  
Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society (LAWS) will celebrate 25 great years with an ice cream social this Sunday, Sept. 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to share this day with us.  It will be held at 728 Cherokee (Kansas Country Store).  The Depot has generously offered to provide cake  and ice cream with all the fixins’.  We are very grateful to Mike and Mary for their generosity.  The cake will be cut at 3 p.m.  There will be introductions and announcements at that time.  This is not intended to be a fundraiser.  LAWS wants to take this opportunity to thank our supporters and friends for the unbelievable financial support and cooperation that has brought us to this very impressive milestone.
 
2. What has been the best part, for you, of working with LAWS members over the years to save the lives of, and find homes for homeless animals?  
The most rewarding part of working with LAWS volunteers and members is their cooperative spirit and dedication to our goals.  Although we sometimes have different methods, there is a common bond that brings the group back together to share stories of their efforts and successes.  Some of our board members were at the very first meeting 25 years ago.  It gives me unbelievable satisfaction to see these people walk into our meetings month after month.  The  determination of LAWS to help the community’s pets and pet owners is as strong as it has ever been.
 
3. What are some of your favorite stories of animals who had struggled, but eventually found loving, forever homes?
Since I was involved in his time with LAWS, probably “One Eyed Pete” is the most memorable cat.  He was brought into Animal Control with wounds.  After an examination by a veterinarian, it was determined that he had been shot several times, at close range by a BB gun.  
He had nearly a dozen pellets lodged in his body.  Most were found to be in areas that did not require that they be removed, but he did have to have one eye removed and some other surgeries.  He was a little crabby and would occasionally give one of us a nice bite to remind us that he was still in some pain.  
One Eyed Pete eventually found a forever home with a very understanding and loving family.  We still get updates on Pete’s antics.  He has become a great companion for his family.  As for a favorite dog story, I’m not sure that I could choose just one.  There have been so many that have been found in the country or at Animal Control that were undernourished, full of fleas and worms, or other health issues and a Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society volunteer would step up, take control, and bring them back to a healthy happy life.  These dogs show their gratitude with love and loyalty toward the people who have saved their lives and moved them toward a happy, safe home.
 
4. With many towns and cities in the U.S. still lagging behind in animal welfare reform, why are communities such as Leavenworth so fortunate to have groups such as LAWS?
Many communities have groups that talk a good story but really don’t accomplish very much.  These groups raise large amounts of money but seldom actually help animals in need.  Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society has been proactive in several ways over the years.  LAWS believes that every possible dollar that can be raised for the animals should be used, in some way, to benefit the animals.  Going back to the days when LAWS reimbursed part of the cost of spay and neuter, to the free spay and neuter program that is our current mission, LAWS has in some way helped facilitate tens of thousands of pet sterilizations for our community.
There is no other organization in or around our community that has effected the wellbeing of our area animals in the magnitude that LAWS has in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Laws has worked in cooperation with Leavenworth city officials to improve and update city ordinances that are beneficial to the animals and the community as a whole.  LAWS has helped hundreds of people over the 25 years with emergency vet expenses.  LAWS volunteers have been instrumental in rescuing and rehoming several thousand pets over the 25 years.  
Although there isn’t an accurate count from the beginning, more than 100 have been moved to rescues or homes in the last two months, due in some way, to the efforts of a LAWS volunteer.
 
5. After all the commitment and selfless acts of Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society members over the last 25 years what do members hope to accomplish in the next 25?  
Rimsie, with the cooperation and support of you and the Leavenworth Times, the Leavenworth Police Department, Animal Control, and the community as a whole, I believe that LAWS will continue to improve the animal welfare in our area.  
As we have in the last 25 years, we plan to increase the number of cat sterilizations, to help lower the population in feral cat colonies.  
The spay and neuter program is working and will continue to lower the number of unplanned pet pregnancies.  Our volunteers will continue to save and rescue every pet that they possibly can.  LAWS has an active role in the volunteer program at Leavenworth Animal Control.  
We hope to expand on that commitment.  By this we hope to help the animals, and at the same time, hopefully, reduce the city’s costs by providing volunteers to help with the needs of the pets during their stay at Animal Control.  LAWS is committed to helping Animal Control and their pets in every way possible.  
One of my personal goals is to change the public’s perception of Animal Control.  Many people seem to believe that if an animal goes to Animal Control it will be euthanized.  
Animal Control and LAWS volunteers have in fact saved 98 percent of the pets that have gone to the facility.  This is an amazing accomplishment.  
These numbers are better than most “no kill” shelters.  Animal Control is to be commended for their efforts and successes in their very stressful environment.  
There is no other organization in or around our community that has affected the wellbeing of our area animals in need in the magnitude that LAWS has and will always continue to do.

— Rimsie McConiga