Santa’s Gone to the Dogs

By PATTI SELLS | News-Telegram Feature Writer

Dec 18, 2007 - Pets of all kinds, dressed to the hilt in Santa hats, reindeer ears and other Christmas garb, were on the scene this past weekend for pictures with Santa Claus, with all proceeds benefiting a new organization in town, Promoting Pet Adoption and Welfare in Sulphur Springs, better known as-PPAWSS. 

Staff Photo by Patti Sells

Snuggles, a 1-year-old pet pug belonging to Joe and Kris Dykes, was true to his name Saturday morning as he affectionately took to Santa for a Christmas picture at Pet Sense, located at the new shopping center in front of Lowe's. Pet pictures were taken for a $5 donation benefiting PPAWSS, a local organization "Promoting Pet Adoption and Welfare in Sulphur Springs."

PPAWSS was formed in July by a local group of concerned animal lovers hoping to make a difference by saving stray and abandoned animals from kill shelters.

"We were seeing hundreds of dogs and cats being put to sleep each week," said PPAWSS President Ashley Duke, who frequents animal shelters in Sulphur Springs, Commerce and Greenville in order to rescue animals scheduled for euthanization. "It's just so sad."

Members of the organization were pushed into action when they learned that an estimated three to four million dogs and cats are put down each year. The group currently is not accepting surrendered pets or strays called in by citizens so they can better focus on animals already in  shelters that euthanize animals, according to Duke.

One of PPAWSS goals is to help shelters in Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County other locations increase adoptions, as well as to inform the community about the urgency of spaying and neutering pets.

"Our long-term goal is to build a shelter in order to rescue even more dogs and cats," said Duke.

PPAWSS does not currently have an indoor facility, according to Duke, who explained that rescued animals are totally dependent on foster families until they can be placed in a permanent home setting.

"All our animals receive superior care, as if they were our own," she said. "We prefer for them to receive one-on-one love and care — this way they will better adjust to home life." 

According to Duke, fostering is fun, flexible and rewarding for volunteers who want to help but don't necessarily want a lifetime commitment. At the same time, it  prepares the dog or cat for adoption into a home.

PPAWSS provides foster families with all necessary medical pet care, including vaccinations, spaying or neutering, heartworm testing, and medication for worming and any other pre-approved conditions. They also provide families with a care package that includes but is not limited to food, bowls, toys, leashes, collars and, if necessary, crates.

Anything else a foster family purchases for the pet's stay can be counted as a tax deductible donation to PPAWSS upon show of receipt.

Hopkins County families are encouraged to open their hearts and open their homes, Duke said.

"Foster parents make an enormous difference in lowering the number of animals euthanized each year because shelters don't have space for them," Duke explained. "It is important, valuable work, and best of all, it saves lives."

To make a donation or for more information on how to become a foster family for a pet, call 903-243-4306 or log on to

Pet pictures with Santa were provided by local residents and sisters Kathy Ward and Becca Pope, owners of Paw Prints, who donated their time, expertise and lots of patience to more than 65 pets.

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