Saturn, Casino Help New Animal Sanctuary

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Animal lover Walt Nader wrestles with A.J., a very friendly, very hairy Giant Schnauzer. Nader, a Pine resident, is one of many volunteers involved in organizing the Rim Country Animal Sanctuary -- an extended-life animal shelter.

Rover and Fluffy may not like it, but for Payson pet owners, this weekend will be an opportunity to help the local pet population.

Volunteers from the Rim Country Animal Sanctuary will be offering discounts up to $25 off the spaying or neutering of cats and dogs during its fund-raiser Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Mazatzal Casino parking lot.

The fund-raiser is sponsored by Saturn of Tempe, which will host a tent event at the same time. The event will feature 27 Saturns and a free oil change to anyone who brings a Saturn to the sale.

The fund-raiser is the first for Rim Country Animal Sanctuary volunteers, who are in the primary stages of planning to build an extended-life animal shelter just outside of Payson.

The extended-life refers to a goal the volunteers have to not euthanize any adoptable animals.

"We decided if we could add an additional sanctuary service, we could go forward with the goal of reducing, and ultimately eliminating the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals," said Stephen Stewart, sanctuary volunteer.

"They do have the right to live a long life," he said. "Our job is to support that right."

The board is mainly composed of Payson residents who have worked in animal shelters or who have experience rescuing animals.

Mazatzal Casino Marketing Director Marc Kaplan worked on the board of directors at a humane society in New Mexico, where he found his collie mix, Cee Cee in 1990. He will also serve as a volunteer for the sanctuary.

"The Mazatzal Casino has supported all animal groups in the Rim country, and will continue to do so," he said.

Volunteer Walt Nader, who has worked with the Payson Humane Society, said he and his wife are both animal lovers. They own three dogs and five cats, one of which is 21 years old.

Nader said the mission of the sanctuary is to provide additional care for discarded animals in the community.

"We're not in competition with the humane society," he said. "We hope we can work in concert with each other."

Payson Humane Society President Larry Stubbs said he doesn't think the sanctuary will affect the humane society financially.

"Anything that helps the animals, I'm for," Stubbs said. "I see nothing but a plus."

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