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The coronavirus pandemic has affected many businesses all around Arkansas. The Ozark Humane Society’s Cause for Paws Thrift Store is no different.

OHS director Kay Watters said the thrift store is very important to the organization.

“In fact, our thrift store does provide well over, I would say, well over 98% of our funding,” Watters said.

As the coronavirus epidemic began, it didn’t look like that much of a problem for the store at first. But as it swiftly became a pandemic, the OHS decided to close the store temporarily for the safety of the employees and the customers, many of whom are in the at-risk age group.

Watters said the store had a group of regular shoppers who not only bought merchandise, but made donations as well. She said it’s heartening to see people stepping up to care for abandoned and dumped animals.

Like many other retailers, the shop was suffering a loss of sales as well because people were afraid to spend money. That means the employees were laid off.

But there are also employees working at the animal shelter.

“We have well over 65 dogs and puppies out there right now, and probably close to 30 cats and kittens that have to be cleaned, fed, watered and taken care of on a daily basis, every day for every day of the year” she said.

Although caring for the animals a priority, the OHS also has to take care of the employees so they all stay healthy.

Watters said the OHS understands that the entire community, country and world are suffering through the current emergency.

“We are just different in that we have animals that depend on us,” Watters said. “We have families that we pay whose children depend on us.”

The OHS doesn’t get funding from either the city of Harrison or Boone County. As such, every dollar collected is important.

“As a volunteer-based organization, it’s a lot to contend with on how to manage the daily changes that we see with this disease going through the community,” Watters said.

The OHS is a no-kill shelter. They adopt out many older pets, but they need more people to adopt those older animals at the shelter. Many of the senior dogs and cats need patience and training, but this time of staying home a lot could be a chance to take on one of those pets.

They need more people to adopt animals, but the main thing is clear.

“Our biggest hope is to actually manage to stay open and survive this dilemma and get to the other side and back to where we were in terms of looking for funding other than our thrift store,” she said.

The OHS offers four low-cost spay/neuter clinics throughout the year.

“We do that for the community and we make no money on that,” Watters said. “It’s all volunteer and it’s done through a vet who visits us with a mobile surgical ward that she uses to spay and neuter the animals.”

Watters realizes that it’s a difficult time for everyone, but she has high hopes for the future.

“I think we can all make it through this,” Watters said. “I just want to see some improvements on the other side. But our main concern right now is keeping our folks employed because we have employees to think about and their families, along with the animals we’re responsible for.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can mail donations to Ozark Humane Society, P.O. Box 542, Harrison, AR 72602 or visit the Facebook page for Ozark Humane Society to make donations and leave messages. Call Watters at (870) 446-6631 for additional details.

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