ALPENA- A large increase in the number of homeless pets being sheltered at the Huron Humane Society has made had an effect on its budget. The shelter, which is almost always near or at capacity, is dealing with more animals than usual and as a result is going through supplies quicker and money is running low.
The shelter, which has a no-kill policy, has taken in many animals that have been abandoned or been strays in town. It utilizes social media sites such as Facebook and its website to find homes for the animals, but they still are coming into the shelter at an alarming rate. In order to continue to serve the people and provide quality care for the dogs and cats the shelter is seeking more community support.
There are many ways a person or family can help the shelter. A person can drop off items needed, donate money, adopt or foster a pet, or volunteer at the humane society. Manager Natalie Francis said right now the shelter is out of room and it will be difficult to make room for more animals until some of the them find new homes.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Gail Robbins gets ready to open a large bag of food to feed some puppies at the Huron Humane Society on Thursday. Even though it looks like there are a lot of supplies in storage, officials said the current number of animals it has puts it well over capacity and supplies go very quickly. Simple items such as bleach, dog food, cat food and kitty litter are needed to help care for the animals. Here Gail Robbins gets ready to open a large bag of food to feed some puppies.
"We are over-populated. We have well over 40 cats or kittens more than what we should and we have about 30 dogs or puppies, which is more than the shelter is really capable of handing," Francis said. "People are bringing in strays and the weather is getting cold, so we take them, put them in a crate and squeeze them in where we can. We can't turn the people away and have them release the animals in the woods."
Francis said the humane society is not only encouraging people to adopt a pet, but also to be a foster owner. She said a pet can be taken into a person's home and remain there until a suitable home is found. The shelter promotes the animals it has available on Facebook, on its website and in meet-and-greets in the community. She said fostering an animal is a good way for people to see if they are ready to have a pet, or see how a new dog or cat gets along with a current pet.
"It really is a great way to help out the shelter," Francis said. "We will match an animal up with your family and you can spend some time with it here and if you take it home the shelter will help you with food that is needed. Your name and contact information is on the website and you make appointments with the potential adopters to view the animal and if you're not comfortable with that you can bring it back to the shelter to have them see it in the meet and greet room."
Fundraising Coordinator Val Williams said 87 percent of the money the shelter gets to operate on comes from public donations and government contributions. She said many people support the shelter, as do the city, Alpena County and Alpena Township. She said the shelter is doing everything it can to make the money it has last and is being spent wisely, but the amount of animals being housed is what the trouble is.
"The bottom line is we're getting more animals, but our funding isn't increasing to cover the added expenses," Williams said. "We have always received great support from the community and I think that will remain true."
Francis said items such as kitty litter, dog and cat food and bleach are always needed. She said a pallet of large bags of kitty litter only last about a week and a half and with the amount of cats and kittens being housed, it goes fast. She said bleach is also used a lot each day. It is used to wash laundry, clean floors and walls and anything else that needs to be cleaned. She said people can offer their time as well; they can help with some simple chores, or just spend time in the cat room or take some dogs for a walk.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.