Dog lovers expect howling good time at next weekend's show

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WALLA WALLA - The second round of national "Prescription Take Back Day" will have a new ring to it locally.

The public can come to the Walla Walla Police Department on Saturday and turn in prescription drugs no longer needed or with expired use-by dates. No questions are asked and everything is disposed of through environmentally safe methods.

This year officials also are calling for folks to bring in their discarded cellphones to the department, Third Avenue and Rose Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participants will help build a local cellphone bank that gives mobile phones that dial 911 for use by a victim of domestic violence or a senior citizen who is in need.

"When we get a full box of discarded cellphones, we send off the phones and, in return, Walla Walla can order free, reconditioned phones," explained Vicki Ruley, event coordinator.

The donated phones are cleared of personal information and discarded in an eco-safe method or refurbished, according to CellPhonebank.org. The number of phones sent in by an organization is "deposited," and then that same number is available for "withdrawal."

Those phones will be distributed in Walla Walla through the YWCA and the office of Aging and Long Term Care.

That gets unused products into the right hands, while the prescription gathering gets old products out of the wrong hands.

In 2010, the event garnered more than 100 pounds of drugs. Local efforts were a collaboration between city and county agencies, as well as community groups.

In its first year, the day was a two-pronged approach to drug safety, Ruley said. Improper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications causes contamination in waterways when drugs are sent down the drain. As well, putting pills into the garbage can put them into the hands of drug seekers.

The biggest victory, however, is getting expired and no-longer-used prescription drugs out of cupboards and away from the wrong users. Addicts often favor pain relievers such as OxyContin, codeine and Vicodin, Ruley said before last year's event.

Drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington state and youth admissions to state-funded treatment for prescription opiates are 19 times higher than in 2001.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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