REYNOLDSVILLE — The Reynoldsville Public Library welcomed some special four-footed guests to its “Going for the Dogs” event at the Reynoldsville Fire Department Wednesday.
Pine Creek K9 Search Unit volunteers and their dogs, as well as Donna and Gary Fye and Olivia Marchioni, accompanied by their therapy dogs, gave speeches about their local efforts before St. Marys native and best-selling author John Schlimm took the floor to speak about his book “Extraordinary Dogs.”
The Fyes of Brookville brought Labradors Gabby and Abe, trained through Therapy Dogs International, and Marchioni, who is with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, brought Onyx.
The Fyes visit several places in the area, they said, including nursing homes, hospitals and schools, bringing comfort to people who are grieving, healing or just in need of a furry friend.
During his speech, Gary fought back emotions as he spoke about reactions he has seen from people impacted by these dogs, referring to it as “very gratifying.”
Makynsey and Lyndsey Kepner with the PCKSU brought their two Australian Shepherds and trained rescue dogs, Marshall and Shadow, while Emily Wary brought German Shepherd Oakley.
Lydnsey explained the mission of the search unit is to assist in any missing person case in northwest central Pennsylvania, with the help of these dogs’ skills. These dogs go through extensive training and specialize in several different types of cases, such as missing children or a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and lost hunters.
Event guests asked both the Fyes and the search unit questions about the volunteer-based work they do, thanking them for their services afterward.
DuBOIS — Patty Reasinger and her new nonprofit organization are on a mission to help rescue an increasing number of feral cats and kittens roaming the streets of DuBois.
Reasinger said she approached the DuBois City Council several weeks ago to tell them she has started Purrfect Paws Cat Rescue, SBCF, whose goal is “to work toward the control and humane treatment of stray cats and kittens with the objective to find homes.”
In turn, the city “acknowledged there’s a problem and we’re willing to help,” said city Manager John “Herm” Suplizio.
For years, city officials have talked internally about how to control the large number of stray cats and kittens within the city, said Zoning Officer & Code Enforcement Officer Zac Lawhead.
“I can’t put a number to it, but I can say at least weekly I get a call about stray cats or cats in general — what can we do about this or something like that,” said Lawhead. “And now a resident has stepped up because of a problem in her neighborhood, and getting the city involved with the support that they need so we can address this city-wide.”
“I’ve been rescuing kittens in my neighborhood for about four years,” said Reasinger.
A similar organization, Ridgway Animal Haven, was established last year in Elk County, said Reasinger, noting a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program was initiated there and is a humane and effective approach to controlling stray and feral cats. Scientific studies show that TNR improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.
Reasinger, along with Suplizio and Lawhead, met with Karen Cappiello of Ridgway Animal Haven to learn more about that program.
“And she is kind of helping me,” said Reasinger. “Purrfect Paws is not a shelter or a sanctuary, but we want to educate the public.”
“It’s not the creation of a shelter, it’s the creation of a community program,” said Lawhead. “I would like to eliminate the possibility of the transmission of diseases that these feral cats can transmit to house pets and things like that.”
“We’ll be working with local veterinarians,” said Reasinger. “The city will let us know if there is a problem in their neighborhood. They will be spayed or neutered. We’ll locate clinics and vets who are willing to take them. If there are any kittens, they will go into foster care. Some cats will be released back into the neighborhoods because that actually keeps other feral cats out of the neighborhood. You have to return some that are spayed-neutered to the neighborhood. And, others will look for barns or some type of shelters outside.”
Since it is in the beginning stages, Reasinger is in need of volunteers and money.
“My program is only going to be as strong as the amount of volunteers that I get,” said Reasinger.
A fundraising craft show will be held at the DuBois Area High School from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. It will serve as a way to meet Purrfect Paws volunteers and find out more about the new non-profit 501c3 organization, Reasinger said. There will be shirts, and a few other donated items for sale. They will also accept donations.
On Friday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m., there will be a public rescue/TNR training at the city building on Scribner Avenue. Anyone willing to volunteer for the rescue organization is welcome to attend and hear about volunteer opportunities.
“This is a great program,” said Lawhead. “I believe this will help with some problems people are having in different areas and it’s going to create a good community involvement. I think it’ll help us catch more things other than just feral cat problems ... people out looking, this is going to have a full turn effect I guess.”
“We have received several calls of people saying it’s a problem and nobody’s really stepped up to the plate,” said Suplizio. “We do thank Patty and her group for stepping up to the plate and taking on this mission. We are happy to assist.”
“And, as Patty has said, to make this work, we need the volunteers to come out,” said Suplizio. “We encourage people to get involved and to volunteer. If you can’t volunteer and you can do something financially, that would be greatly appreciated. The city’s going to step up to the plate and purchase some traps and assist in neutering and spaying. But, this is one area that we do need the help from our citizens. So, we ask them to please reach out.”
For more information or to volunteer, individuals can call the city hall or visit their Facebook page — Purrfect Paws Cat Rescue, SBCF Facebook page.
DuBOIS — Elementary-aged children had the opportunity to get their fingerprints taken and tour the Sandy Township Police Department as part of the Children’s Paw Prints With the Police event initiated by students in the Administration of Justice program at Penn State DuBois.
The goal of the partnership was to improve the safety of area children, as well as to foster a relationship between the community and police officers, according to Lecturer of Administration of Justice Selena Price.
Children were offered fingerprinting that parents will be able to keep on record. In the event a child would ever go missing, fingerprints could aid in finding them, police said. Families were also given the opportunity to see some of the equipment officers use on the job, including tactical gear and the inside of a police car.
Police Chief Kris Kruzelak, along with Officers Josh Johnston and Jesse Cole talked to children and families about their desire to have open discussions and to work together with the public to keep their communities safe.
“We want to build that relationship and trust in the community and let younger people know that we are here to help them,” said Kruzelak. “We just want to be more approachable.”
Recently, Kruzelak noted that the department also participated in Halloween events and distributed out more than 200 trick-or-treat bags to children, in addition to participating in “Coffee With a Cop,” as a way to interact with the citizens they serve.
Price said her goals are similar to those of Kruzelak, which has led her to develop these programs in her classes
“Every class I teach this, they are required to pair up with either the police, courts or corrections to try and just bridge that gap with the communities and educate them on what they do and that the police are there for them,” said Price.
“I did this project in hopes to spark an interest in the field of law enforcement or criminal justice,” said senior Hayley Knepper, who is interested in pursuing a career as a prosecutor or state trooper.
“We just want to help people have a conversation with police and be comfortable and work with them,” said junior Savannah Terwilliger, who wants to become a juvenile probation officer. “It’s about building a relationship.”
Price said some other Administration of Justice students are planning another program, Literacy With Law Enforcement, from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Penn State DuBois Campus Library. The public will provide an opportunity to meet a state trooper and the Nittany Lion.
“Their angle will be educating and literacy and how important it is,” said Price. “And also to let people know you can be comfortable around police.”