The Denison Animal Welfare Group was recently recognized for its efforts in helping the city’s four-legged citizens.

More than 30 DAWG volunteers recently filled the City Council chambers as the organization was recognized with the Moving Forward, Giving Back award for its efforts in the community. DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said in the past three years, the organization has logged more than 25,000 volunteer hours in its fight to give the lost animals of Denison a second chance at finding a home.

“Our mission has always been to stop healthy and adoptable animals from suffering and needless euthanasia,” Phillips said.

Since the group’s creation in 2014, Phillips said the organization has reduced euthanasia of animals in Denison to nearly zero, with mostly aggressive and elderly animals still being put down.

In 2016, Phillips said the organization found homes for nearly 1,200 animals and had almost as many spayed or neutered.

“Our goal is to end the problem and not just put a Band-Aid on it,” she said, describing the number of animals without a home and caused by over-breeding.

Mayor Jared Johnson lauded the group for its cooperation and understanding in working with the city. In other cities, Johnson said, similar organizations have come in with “the wrong intentions” with regard to meeting the needs of animals.

“You guys really are about doing right for as many animals as possible while understanding the city has limits as well,” he said. “Their work is a testament to a group of passionate volunteers who are committed to their cause. They’ve done so with class, with innovation, with respect for other stakeholders and that’s why they are successful.”

Phillips said there were some within the group who had issues with the city’s euthanasia rate for animals that were not adopted. Phillips said she understood this was due to the city’s limited resources in promoting and getting the animals adopted.

This partnership between the city and DAWG deepened on Father’s Day 2015 when the city’s animal shelter flooded following a series of heavy storms early in the summer. Following the rescue of all the animals, the city allowed volunteers with DAWG to relocate them to the former Southside Fire Station complex, which was vacant. Since then, DAWG has continued to use the building as its primary facility.

For its next project, Phillips said DAWG is currently raising $500,000 toward the construction of a new shelter facility. She said the organization has been raising funds since it got its mobile adoption unit trailer in 2015 and currently has $100,000 saved.

This is only the second time that the council has awarded the Moving Forward, Giving Back award since it was created last year. The first recipient was Dean Spader, who helped lead efforts in reducing the city’s restriction on alcohol sales culminating in a successful vote in 2015.