VERSAILLES — Although many voices throughout the globe are sounding an alarm to save the planet from a carbon footprint and greenhouse gases, the importance of caring for living things on planet earth are (or at least should be) a top priority.
Whether a whale in the Atlantic ocean, a jaguar in the Amazon rain forest, or even a cat or dog in Darke County, Ohio, all should do what they can to protect and care for animals who, by no fault of their own, find themselves helpless and homeless.
Three Darke County fourth graders are leading the way in caring for stray, abandoned and orphaned cats and kittens, by envisioning a better place for them and making it happen through community support.
Pets, Paws & Claws, a rescue organization for stray, homeless and abandoned felines, was the idea of Evelyn Eshelman and her friends, Jenna and Callie. While still in third grade, the girls were inspired by reading a story in school about Angel Arellano, a 9-year-old girl from Fresno, Calif., who helped save the Fresno Chaffee Zoo from being closed in 2004, and encouraged residents and beyond to get involved. Her efforts helped to raise over $700,000, giving hope to the zoo and its four-legged inhabitants. It was after learning this true story that Evelyn, Callie and Jenna decided to put their own idea of starting a cat rescue into action.
“We were reading a story at school about a girl who helped save a zoo that was going to shut down in her community. She loved animals, and started raising money to help them, which gave us the idea to start an organization helping animals too,” said Evelyn, co-founder of Pets, Paws & Claws. “We were not so sure of the idea at first, but we thought if we stick to the idea we could really do it. We were talking about it at all of our recesses!”
The girls also gained inspiration through visiting and fostering shelter animals who needed to experience the care, kindness and attention. Along with Evelyn’s mother, Brittney Eshelman, all three girls would regularly visit local shelters, such as Our Farm Sanctuary (Tipp City) and the Darke County Humane Society (Greenville), asking questions and gaining hands-on knowledge about how to care for animals who needed homes, taking a particular interest in cats.
“I’ve always loved cats and especially love visiting animal shelters. My mom, sister and I used to play with shelter cats and dogs because they need attention and it’s lots of fun,” said Evelyn. “Our principal let us hang posters around the school, and we had a donation box in the school office. Lots of people donated animal toys, treats, and supplies that we shared with our foster cats…We made flyers that were passed out to students and talked to our classmates over the announcements. We collected items from our houses and held a garage sale last summer to raise money for animal care.”
Some local businesses have allowed the girls to put posters in their windows and leave donation jars to spread awareness about Pets, Paws & Claws. When Evelyn’s sister, Audrey, website and media volunteer for the organization, began posting information about Pets, Paws & Claws, it captured the attention of Karen Herndon, Marketing Programs Manager of Animal Health at Midmark. The company invited Evelyn, Callie and Jenna to visit and tour the Versailles facility, providing them with an opportunity to speak with veterinary professionals. This experience inspired the girls to continue their mission to rescue and care for stray, abandoned and homeless cats.
“Midmark was so huge and cool inside. Everyone was really nice and made us feel special about loving animals,” said Evelyn. “We learned about more of what their company does, and how they design things for animals”
“I really enjoyed when they showed us how they create their products at Midmark,” added Callie.” They make their products so that they are helpful to veterinarians and those that work with animals, but also so it makes the animals comfortable and looks nice.”
When asked about the most memorable rescue experiences they’ve had since starting the organization, the girls were quick to mention their experience of taking in a pregnant mother cat and caring for the kittens, shortly after birth.
“When we received a pregnant stray cat from the Our Farm Sanctuary, we took her to Bruns Animal Clinic (Versailles), and had her checked out to make sure she was healthy. We then got to take her back home and waited a few weeks for her to have her babies,” said Callie, adding, “We helped save not only one cat, but many, because of all her babies.”
When asked how people can become involved in supporting their work at Pet, Paws & Claws, the girls offered several suggestions, including donations of food, kitty litter, and of course, monetary donations which would go toward veterinary costs, vaccines and medicines.
“People can support our organization by donating any things they have at home that they may not need that could help local animal shelters,” said Evelyn. “We use Purina dry kitten chow, and any wet food. More importantly, they can spread the word about adopting a cat or kitten to others. We hope to build our own shelter one day, so we are saving money for that and to use for current foster pets.”
Interested in helping out this great organization? Just visit Pets, Paws & Claws on the web at: www.petspawsandclaws.godaddysites.com or email [email protected] To learn more about Our Farm Sanctuary in Tipp City, visit www.ourfarmsanctuary.org. To learn more about the Darke County Humane Society in Greenville, or to check their upcoming dates for the low cost spay/neuter clinics, see the society’s Facebook page. To learn more about the Bruns Animal Clinic in Versailles, call 937-526-4900, or visit on the web at www.brunsanimalclinic.com