ADA — The annual PAWS benefit is a Christmas Gala this year, according to PAWS officlals.

The event will include a silent auction with many interesting gift items, such as an OU football signed by the three living Heisman Trophy winners, and an NFL football autographed by Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton.

Other items will be available which are fixed-priced and can be purchased at any time. Hors d’oeuvres buffet and dancing to the music of Robert Payne will be the entertainment.

PAWS Christmas Gala will be held Saturday, Dec. 8, at Oak Hills Golf and Country Club in Ada. The party begins at 7 p.m. and the cost is $50 per person. Reservations can be made in advance by calling (580) 332-0586, or tickets can be bought at the door.

Corporate sponsors are the lifeblood of the annual event, and their donations pay the basic costs of the event. Ticket and auction sales combine to make the event a success each year for PAWS, the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society. This one fundraiser is all the shelter does for the year — help and support are therefore vital and much appreciated.

The shelter was founded many years ago, and has been in its present location for over ten years, thanks in large part to donations by the Collins Family and the late Aylene McKeel. Mrs. McKeel’s generous annual donations continue to help the shelter with its mission to rescue and save dogs and cats.

So far in 2007, about 1,800 animals have ended up at the PAWS animal shelter. Almost 1,600 of these were brought in by the animal wardens. That means they were running loose on the streets of Ada. The rest were dropped off by the public, or by owners who could no longer care for them. Either way, PAWS serves a very important role in Ada by providing a place where stray or unwanted animals can be kept.

Of the 1,800 or so animals that entered the shelter, only about 550 went home. That’s 33 percent. In 2006 the percentage was about the same.

The rest of the animals who arrived at the shelter were humanely euthanized. It’s always a sad situation when a lot of really great dogs and cats are put down, but it’s not humane to keep a nice house pet locked in a small cage for months at a time. It’s better in the long run to euthanize an animal nobody is willing to take home.

PAWS provides a warm, safe and humane place for animals to live while they’re available for adoption. All PAWS can do is provide a cage that’s dry and fairly warm (or cool in the summer). It’s not a home; it’s not days filled with love and attention; it’s not sitting at home waiting for the person to come in. Instead, it’s days spent sitting in a cage, wagging tails when people stop by to look, and hoping to go home that day.

For a dog or cat, PAWS is a place to stay until, hopefully, someone comes and chooses their pet for the rest of the animal’s life, and takes it to a loving, comfortable home to be a part of the family.

Consider PAWS when someone wants a pet. Come see the wonderful, friendly animals available for adoption and support the animal shelter and its important work by attending our Christmas Gala.