Police Chief Ray Leggett shows off the shelter’s examination table and washing stations. AC

More polished Paws and Claws Shelter welcomes animals, vets, volunteers

By ANDREW CREMATA

Paws and Claws Animal Shelter is no longer just a doggie jail. Upgrades to the facility include new equipment, the ability to vaccinate and euthanize pets, and quarterly visits by licensed veterinarians. These enhancements were made possible with help coming in the form of grant money, aid from the City of Skagway, and hands-on assistance from Police Chief Ray Leggett.
Leggett described the shelter as being a bit of a mess when he took over the police chief job last year. He took his concerns about the facility to the city and asked that the building either be used for what it was intended or be turned into a storage facility, which it was in danger of becoming.
“We decided we wanted to move forward with it (as an animal shelter),” said Leggett from his office next door.
The facility holds three separate fenced areas for animals with some cabinet storage space and some new equipment including a scale, a surgical table and light, a desk, a refrigerator and a blood spinner donated by a veterinarian.
“If the city hadn’t backed us, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” said Leggett.
One of Leggett’s responsibilities, as well as those in his department, is the capture of “dogs at large.” Pet registration is handled at the Police Station, and Leggett said that if an owner has to make the trip downtown to pick up a fugitive pet, that it would be a perfect opportunity to register their animal.
Leggett also received a piece of donated equipment that can read computer microchips implanted in animals that are commonly used in the Lower 48 and Canada for animal identification.
While the department is not implanting chips at this time, Leggett said that if the community shows interest in the idea then a start-up cost of about $300 could implement the plan, which would then cost interested pet owners about $15 to $20 per animal.
Leggett describes the benefit to the animal as well as master by citing a hypothetical example of a pet owner going on vacation and having the dog run off or getting separated from its owner. This situation could be compounded if the animal were to get injured in some way. Any animal shelter or vet that ends up with the pet in its care would be able to scan the pet and immediately identify and contact the owner.
Leggett proudly describes other upgrades to the facility including the ability to start an I.V. on injured or sick animals, which offers a chance to stabilize a pet in order to successfully get it to a provider. He can also provide euthanasia by injection for ill or infirmed animals.
The injections are offered free by the police department after a review by the providers at Paws and Claws. This is an opportunity for pet owners to be with their beloved pets during this difficult time and saves them from veterinary bills for euthanasia that Leggett describes as sometimes being outrageously overpriced.
Katherine Moseley is the President of Paws and Claws and said that visits by various veterinarians to the facility are now taking place regularly. She added, “Our goal is to have veterinarians visiting Skagway on a monthly basis and release a schedule of their visits.”
Moseley said that the shelter received a grant in the amount of $5,000 to offer low-cost spay and neuter for dogs, and that she herself can administer rabies vaccinations.
The shelter received two feral kittens, with three more on the way, from Haines for rehabilitation. One of the kittens has already found a home.
“A feral cat is one that is born in the wild with no human contact,” said Moseley. “They are the product of people not spaying and neutering their pets.”
Moseley encourages anyone who wishes to volunteer to step up.
“There are many things that you can do from fostering pets, walking dogs, and helping with fundraisers, to rolling change from our donation cans,” she said.