By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
RUSSELL -- This was not a typical day for Encore Antiques and Collectibles in Russell, as the shop was filled with knickknacks, old-fashioned memorabilia and kittens. Yes, kittens.
"Gimli, there are no kittens under there," Brendon McCampbell, executive director of Western Plains Animal Refuge in Ellis, said to the pit bull he is fostering.
Gimli was named after a dwarf warrior in "The Lord of the Rings." He smelled kittens and had a desire to find them.
"We brought him so people can see pit bulls aren't mean, vicious dogs," McCampbell said. "He's very sweet and friendly."
WPAR is the only no-kill animal shelter in western Kansas, and Encore, with assistance from Advantage Realty, wanted to help encourage donations to the shelter.
"Awareness really is the main goal since a lot of people don't know it's the only no-kill animal shelter in the area," said Sheryl Krug, co-owner of Encore. "Adoptions are just a bonus."
McCampbell always will stay true to the no-kill policy.
"I'm prepared to keep any of our cats forever," he said. "A side effect of being a no-kill shelter, if we are full and no one adopts a certain animal, those animals are holding a spot that could possibly go to a new animal. But I owe it to the animal. If we already have them, I'm going to make sure they live a happy and healthy life as long as they're with us."
Encore provided the location, Advantage Realty helped with underwriting and WPAR brought the animals for the weekend's SOC HOP -- Shelter Over Crowded-Help our Pets. McCampbell provided five kittens and a dog available for adoption.
The shelter mainly focuses on cat adoptions, but McCampbell said he does not discriminate.
"As long as we have the space, I would never turn anyone down based on breed, age or temperament," he said. "Someone once contacted me about a pig. We've had a rabbit, dogs and cats."
The event was orchestrated by Crystal Craig, co-owner of Encore, who had a previous history helping McCampbell with the shelter.
"In organizing the event, we had a three-part plan," Craig said. "Raise awareness for the shelter, facilitate and encourage adoptions and fosters, and collect donations."
The theme was "Everyone Needs a Home," and that's when Advantage Realty entered the picture.
"We focus a lot on when you move families, a lot of times you're also moving pets," said Jeannine Byers-Long, broker at Advantage Realty. "You have to take all that into consideration when buying a home, so this was a great opportunity to get involved. I am an animal-lover myself."
Several adoptions are pending as a result of the event, and approximately $500 was raised.
Mari Purdy, Russell, wasn't looking for another pet but visited Encore with her two grandchildren to donate and play with the kittens.
"We're animal-lovers," she said. "We have a dog and a cat. The cat we found out by the river all by herself. She was a one-eyed cat, and someone had dropped her off. I've always loved cats, so I had to help."
Krug said every animal deserves love.
"There are so many animals out there who are awesome," Krug said. "They may not be perfect. They may be special needs, but they deserve love as much as any other pet."
Kristin Reed, Hays, has been volunteering with WPAR for more than a year. She owns five cats.
"I had two cats, and my husband had two cats. So when we got married, it was like the Brady Bunch," she said. "Then my husband surprised me for my birthday with a cat I wanted from the shelter."
All proceeds go into the shelter's general fund, used for medical care, general care, utilities and upkeep of the facility.
WPAR is residing on the outskirts of Ellis in a two-room trailer. Due to the limited space, the capacity for animals also is limited.
"I want to be able to help everyone, but we don't always have the space," McCampbell said.
The shelter recently launched the Shelter Development Fund, dedicated to raising money for a bigger facility.
"Hopefully we'll get enough to build a new facility or purchase a building," McCampbell said. "I do want a bigger location that can handle more animals."
To donate or learn more about adoptions, visit www.westernplainsanimalrefuge.org.