HARRISON – So, pretend it’s a regular day, and out of the blue, some really nice people show up at your door and give you a check for $10,600. Crazy, right? Well, that is exactly what happened at the Clare County Animal Shelter on March 21.
The philanthropic group 100 Women + Who Care in Clare County and Surrounding Area generously donated that huge chunk of change for the shelter to use as it sees fit. No conditions, no strings.
It didn’t take Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks long to decide where to apply those funds. The old shelter building needed to be razed and a new storage building constructed, and the unanticipated influx of cash quickly greased the wheels on that project.
In a recent interview, Hicks said the shelter had put out requests for bids to demolish the old structure, and was also seeking out information on a replacement storage structure. She said that someday, ideally, there would be a structure added onto the current shelter building, which would allow for providing some more secluded, quiet housing for highly-stressed animals, as well as a restricted area for animals on court hold. The shelter is currently housing 11 dogs on court hold, necessitating would be adopters to select animals from photos. Shelter workers then bring the animal up front for viewing.
Hicks said a demolition bid from Blane’s had been accepted, and that Northern Logistics had donated the use of a 55-foot truck [cargo] box to use for storing items from the old shelter until the new pole barn gets built.
“They told us we can have it as long as we need it,” she said. “It was really nice. Our volunteer Linda called and asked ‘Is there any way you can do that?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely! When do you want it?’”
Hicks noted the stored stainless steel cages which will be retained.
“We’ve just got to get years and years of storage stuff out,” she said. “And then the rest of it goes in the dumpster.”
As soon as the cleanout is done, demo permits will be pulled.
“We’ve already done the asbestos report,” Hicks said. “There’s no asbestos in that old shelter – which is a miracle. Then they’ll come knock it down and we’ll put it up for bids to get a pole barn built.”
Seeking bids has been stymied by the old structure itself, which has made proper measuring for a new structure difficult.
“And we won’t even know what we need until we talk to some pole building people,” Hicks said.
The shelter also recently participated in the Bissell Clear the Shelter event, placing 16 adult animals (nine cats, seven dogs). Hicks noted there had been no kittens or puppies at that time, adding that the spay/neuter program offered at the shelter appears to be making a hug difference in the proliferation of strays.
“We do not get the number of cats that we used to,” she said. “They’re still out there, and twice a month Dr. Hamilton comes in and does spay/neuter just for cats at a low price, and we just supply the building. It’s for Clare County residents, and people who truly care about their cats are getting them done.”
Hicks said that the vet spays a cat for $50 and neuters for $40, something far more affordable than standard fees.
The Bissell program comes into play by reimbursing the shelter $100 for every dog, and $60 for every cat, which helps offset costs incurred by the shelter.
“It does pay us back for a lot of it,” Hicks said. “And because we haven’t raised our adoption fees, because we want them out of here, this helps a lot.”
She went on to itemize some of the per dog expenses to the shelter: veterinarian spay/neuter charge of $60/$80; and kennel cough shot $15 [shelter cost]; and distemper vaccine $7. Cats also receive the distemper vaccine for approximately the same cost.
The Bissell event is conducted twice a year, but the Clare County Animal Shelter doesn’t always participate if there aren’t enough animals. There is also a Bissell requirement that dogs and cats be microchipped, so there is the added expense of the microchips.
“But it just kind of evens out,” Hicks said. “So, it ends up costing us nothing, and the dogs and cats get homes – which is great. It’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of Zoom meetings – which we all love – but it’s worth it.”
The Clare County Animal Shelter is a very busy place, with Animal Control trucks out on calls throughout the day. During the week of the interview, it was one officer returns, and another is called out.
Hicks said the needs of the animals are continual, and donations of Purina Dog Chow or Purina dry Cat Chow are much appreciated. The reason for preferring brand-specific feeds is based on the need to keep an animal’s diet consistent, which avoids digestive upsets – additionally important since the lives of these animals already are not the happiest.
Currently, the shelter is home to 20 canines and 13 felines.
The shelter is another of the entities which accomplishes a good share of its work through grant funds, and Hicks said the shelter had just been awarded an MDARD grant. Two Seven Oh Inc. has recently solicited participation by the shelter [standard procedure], and it is hoped that grant will be received as well.
Hicks said people bring in their old dog beds, which do get used at the shelter.
“We use, ’em,” she said. “We use blankets, towels, paper towels, laundry soap – we use all that stuff. Without it, we’d be hurting, no doubt about it. It’s what keeps us going – because if we had to buy it, we’d have to change things around horribly.”
Hicks also spoke of the shelter’s continuing need for volunteers, especially for dog walking because of dogs’ need to be exercised and socialized. The generosity of people to share their time at the shelter is always appreciated, such as when Heckman Electric stepped up for animals to do about $200 of electrical work while Hicks was on vacation.
“And sent us a bill for zero dollars,” she said. “They donated their time and their stuff, and we were like, ‘Yes!’ It was so nice of them. We get a ton of donations, and I can’t express how grateful I am for stuff like that.”
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