FORT WALTON BEACH — It may have been sunny Thursday morning at Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, but volunteers and donors were busy setting up a large tent and pallets. The effort was in preparation for wet weather forecast for early next week.
Tom Marr, owner of Nationwide Tents N Events, said that he had been following news coverage on the plight of 97 dogs rescued from Danny's Doghouse animal shelter in Niceville last week, when he learned that PAWS was in need of pallets to place under the individual cages to keep the dogs dry.
“I consistently donate to SOCKs and PAWS and I have a friend that called and said, ‘Can you come up with some tarps and pallets?’” Marr said.
In addition to pallets, Marr and his business partner Trey Pippin scheduled for delivery and set up of a 30-by-48-foot tent at PAWS. Todd Schweizer donated the pallets that Pippin delivered.
“We would have charged $1,500 to $2,000 for that usually,” Marr said of the tent service, “but he (Pippin) volunteered that. Now all the dog cages can fit under the tent with side walls so the wind and the rain cannot get inside.”
Dee Thompson, director of PAWS, said that the tent will be a huge help in keeping the dogs safe and dry.
"It's wonderful," Thompson said. "We have all the new run cages set up in there for the dogs to run around in. We can definitely keep them warmer under there so we are excited."
The tent has room for 16 dogs and a space for weighing the animals.
"We have to continually weigh these guys to make sure they are putting weight on," Thompson said. "We are also still using the overhang with propane heaters that were donated (for the other rescued dogs), so it will be nice and warm in there tonight."
As for the 97 dogs, Thompson said Alaqua Animal Refuge was able to take in 20 of the canines with the most serious medical issues, and another animal rescue, The Rescued Rescuers, took in another sickly dog. However, Thompson explained that until a court awards PAWS custody of the animals, or the owner Danny James surrenders them, PAWS must keep the 97 dogs from the Niceville seizure under their organization.
PAWS hopes to finalize their paperwork and present it to the court Friday to begin the custody process.