Where do stray animals or lost pets go when they need shelter? They are transported to the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, as it is more commonly known, a local animal shelter that takes in animals and provides temporary housing.

PAWS has been in operation for several years in Ada, but relocated to a new facility at 1200 Sandy Creek Drive in 1996. The move, which was largely funded by the late Ayleene McKeel, allowed for more pets to be housed.

According to Shannon Nickell, manager at the PAWS shelter, the population rate for the facility varies from season to season.

"During the springtime, we usually receive between 200 to 230 dogs and cats each month." she said, "During the winter it slows down a little bit, with us usually taking in 80 to 100 a month."

The animals are collected by Chris Faulkner, Ada's animal control officer, who said, "Sometimes we pick up to 10 dogs a day." Faulker also said there are always more dogs than cats gathered.

Animals can also be brought in and dropped off, depending on how much space is available at that particular time, Nickell said.

According to Nickell, the animals brought in have a five day waiting period before becoming property of PAWS, in which they then are prepared for adoption. Thirty to 40 pets are adopted from PAWS each month.

"With cats, it's a $25 adoption fee, which they're feline leukemia tested and they have to be negative," she said, "They are also dewormed and there is a $30 surgery deposit they have to put up, but they do receive the deposit back after we spay or neuter them. With the dogs, it's a $45 adoption fee, also with a $30 surgery deposit. The dogs are heartworm tested and they do have to be negative and they are also dewormed."

Not all animals are adopted, however. Nickell said they euthanize an average of 70 animals each month.

PAWS is funded by donations only and accepts both contributions and volunteers, with volunteers needing to be at least 18 years of age.

PAWS currently receives two to three carts filled with food for the animals each week from Wal-Mart SuperCenter, according to manager Lewis Warior. However there is always a need for blankets, sheets, cat litter, treats and toys, Nickell said.

Joan Perry, chairman of the operation committee for PAWS praised the current employees for their work with the animals.

"We have the best staff we've ever had," she said, after discussing both the cleanliness and care that is offered to the abandoned animals. "Shannon does a fabulous job."

PAWS is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.

For more information about volunteering or donations, contact PAWS at (580) 332-5233.