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Benny Polacca, Published March 07 2009

Minn-Kota PAAWS holds on as shelter contest nears end

A Fargo-based animal humane organization is vying to win a $1 million makeover for the facility where it conducts spays and neuters on pets and shelter cats.

The Minn-Kota PAAWS Project, 25 21st St. S., has entered the Zootoo.com Shelter Makeover II contest that awards its top facility contender the makeover and 19 runner-ups cash prizes.

Zootoo.com is a social networking Web site and information source for animal lovers. Its registered users will help determine who wins the makeover contest, which has more than 2,800 facilities nationwide competing.

Lori Magelky, president and founder of Minn-Kota PAAWS, said the organization can perform up to 25 spays and neuters per day on cats and dogs. The facility, which conducts the surgeries four days a week in one operating room, could use an expansion, she said.

Expanding the facility to include two or three operating rooms means more procedures could be conducted to help control the pet population, Magelky said. The facility’s calendar for spays and neuters is booked through mid-April.

As of Friday, the facility conducted 433 surgeries this year, which is up from 350 performed in 2008 by early March. In 2008, 1,722 surgeries were performed, Magelky said.

Minn-Kota PAAWS – founded in 2004 – is a volunteer-run operation with three veterinarians who perform the surgeries, about 15 core volunteers and 25 others who help on an irregular basis, Magelky said.

Carol Stefonek, a Minn-Kota PAAWS volunteer, said the zootoo.com Web site is a great social networking tool.

Registered zootoo.com users help the competing facilities earn points with online activities such as posting photos, journal entries and simply joining the site. The 20 facilities with the most points will advance to the second round after next week.

As of Friday evening, Minn-Kota PAAWS was in 15th place with more than 422,300 points.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504