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Hands 'N Paws says temp shelter doing well one month in

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | April 2, 2024 6:12 PM

OTHELLO — Hands ‘N Paws Animal Assistance officially began its contractual services for sheltering animals in the city of Othello on March 1. After a month of operations, Hands ‘N Paws founder Carmon Derting said things are going well.

Hands ‘N Paws is funded primarily through the city of Othello’s $75,000 contract and donations, Derting said, and is currently set up in a temporary shelter in a Public Works Department shop on the corner of North Broadway Avenue and East Pine Street.

Derting said they were receiving dogs every day for a while but only have a handful of adults currently. She said the facility has 15 kennels of various sizes inside and outside the shelter.

“Animal Control has been bringing them in consistently,” she said. “It's been fine for the ones that (Animal Control’s) picked up to this point. Once an animal is brought to us, then we also do look for possible, potential foster homes and once they're off their stray hold we begin looking for adopters for them, so we're keeping them moving.”

The animals have to stay in the facility for the duration of their “stray hold,” Derting said, so potential owners can claim the dogs.

“It's three days on animals that don't have any form of identification, and seven days on those that do,” she said.

Derting founded Hands ‘N Paws in 2019, she said.

“It started because I saw a need. There was a need that shelters couldn't fulfill. Shelters are so worried about taking care of the animals that they have in their care that it was hard for them, at the time when I started Hands ‘N Paws, to focus on how to keep the animals in their homes,” Derting said. “So we started Hands ‘N Paws to be what I call feet on the ground, if somebody needs help, if all it's gonna take is getting their animals spayed or neutered and they can keep it, or it needs vaccines and they can keep it … But then we quickly found that with the crisis going on nationwide, we (needed to broaden) our horizons and started helping to take in displaced animals.”

Hands ‘N Paws has been focused primarily on fostering out animals, with no facility or permanent location, until now. Othello Mayor Shawn Logan said in a previous interview that it is the city’s intention to build a permanent, long-term facility for Hands ‘N Paws.

Derting said discussions about the new facility are still ongoing.

“We've been totally focused on getting the temporary stuff set up, so I haven’t even looked that far in advance yet,” she said. “We finally got it to a point where we can keep the animals in there, they're happy, they're healthy, they're comfortable and they're well cared for.”

The Othello City Council authorized up to $12,000 to be spent on repairs to the Public Works shop, including upgrades to the wiring, lighting and plumbing to allow the building to be used as a temporary shelter and for normal use after the temporary shelter is no longer needed. 

“They've got a couple more things they said that they were going to do, but for now, we can make it work,” Derting said.

Hands ‘N Paws’ temporary location sits almost directly across from Sagehills Veterinary Services, the shelter’s veterinarian. 

“As part of our agreement with any adopted animal, unless there are age restrictions, they're spayed and neutered prior to adoption,” Derting said. “All animals that come to us, the day they're brought into us from Animal Control, or even as a surrender through our foster program, they're vaccinated, they're dewormed, they're flea-treated. We give them exams to see if there's anything necessary for them to go to the vet for.”

Hands ‘N Paws also offers “Trap, Neuter, Release” services for cats, Derting said.

“I have a dedicated team and that's all they do is trap outside kitties,” she said, “and they transport them to low-cost spay-and-neuter clinics, get them altered and bring them back and release them back where they found them, knowing that there’s a caretaker there.”

Derting said Othello residents can notify Hands ‘N Paws about cats in Othello. For dogs, Derting said residents should contact the Othello Police Department Animal Control, who will determine whether to pick up the animal or not. According to Hands ‘N Paws’ contract with the city, the organization is only allowed to accept dogs that come from Animal Control. 

The city is also in charge of determining whether to euthanize biting dogs, Derting said.

“If it's just a general stray that comes in, we do our own evaluation and we monitor the animal, and it'll be a group decision with the staff on if that is the most humane thing to do for the animal, whether it's for behavioral or medical reasons (or for) public safety,” she said.

Hands ‘N Paws has not yet had to euthanize an animal, and Derting said it is a rare occurrence and a decision that is not taken lightly. Hands ‘N Paws may also consult a professional trainer on the dog’s behavior, Derting said. 

“We have such a passion for these animals,” she said. “We try to be out there as much as we possibly can to help the community.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.

    Hands ‘N Paws founder Carmon Derting stands next to one of the organization’s large kennels inside its temporary Othello shelter on North Broadway Avenue. Derting said the shelter has 15 kennels of various sizes both inside and outside the building.
 
 
    Hands ‘N Paws staff member Amber Lopez gives a bowl of water to a husky kenneled outside the temporary Othello shelter.
 
 
    Exterior of Othello’s temporary dog shelter made from a Public Works Department shop on North Broadway Avenue. The Othello City Council approved up to $12,000 for repairs to the buildings lighting, wiring and plumbing before being used as the shelter.
 
 
    One of Hands ‘N Paws’ large dog kennels, purchased by the city of Othello when the Othello City Council approved the city’s one-year contract with Hands ‘N Paws.