September 6, 2009
Looking for love
By Amy Bowen
Puppies happily squirmed as workers at the Tri-County Humane Society started to prepare them for adoption.
The 19 puppies, 18 of which were 5 weeks old or younger, already had made a long trek to St. Cloud last weekend. A volunteer transported the animals from Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue, an animal rescue more than four hours away in Red Lake. Tri-County had space for the puppies, so they agreed to help out the smaller shelter, said Vicki Davis, Tri-County’s executive director.
Such cooperation is not uncommon at Tri-County. The humane society accepts transfers from other shelters if there is room, and has quietly done so since the 1990s. So far this year, Tri-County has accepted 201 transfers, with 97 from Red Lake, said Jessica Peterschick, the shelter’s customer service manager.
No adoptable local animals are ever transferred to outside shelters, Davis said. Tri-County does not accept transfers if the shelter is full or expects an onslaught of local surrenders, she said.
Accepting transfers from rescues does not cost the Tri-County Humane Society any additional money. The price of the adoptions generally offset any incurred costs of veterinary care, Davis said.
“If we have room, why not?” Davis said. “We’re trying to help. If we help each other out, then maybe we can make more of an effect.”
Tri-County has helped animal welfare organizations in the counties of Stevens, Polk, Pope, Kandiyohi and Beltrami and other organizations in Roseau, Alexandria, Melrose and St. Joseph. They have even taken cats from a no-kill shelter in Canada, Peterschick said.
No formal network of shelters that accept transfers exists. It’s done on an informal basis, Davis said. Shelters call each other to see which ones have room for additional animals.
The Humane Society of Kandiyohi County in Willmar transferred three small dogs last week to Tri-County and four large dogs to Golden Valley’s Animal Humane Society, said Tari Evenson, office manager. The shelter was out of room, Evenson said.
The humane society in return accepts transfer animals if it has room, Evenson said.
“It’s very essential,” Evenson said of animal rescue organizations working together. “If we get really bad and we can’t find a place for them, we would have to euthanize them.”
Smaller rescue organizations can become overwhelmed by the need in their areas. That’s the case for Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue. The rescue serves the entire reservation, which spans 870 square miles, said one of the rescue’s board members, Karen Good. The Red Lake Tribal Council provides support for the shelter, which includes veterinarian services.
The rescue has 17 kennels and just received a grant to build eight more kennels, she said. In 2008, it rescued 617 surrendered, homeless and abandoned animals and transferred them to more than 20 different shelters across Minnesota and the Midwest.
Volunteers from the Twin Cities help the rescue make drops every weekend, Good said. During the week, the rescue e-mails shelters and rescues regarding what animals are available and their stories.
“Our goal is to reduce pet overpopulation on the reservation,” Good said. “The overpopulation has caused animals to suffer.”
Most of the animals brought into the shelter suffer from starvation and mange, a skin disease caused by mites, Good said. The problems don’t stop there. About 75 percent of dogs older than 2 suffer from heartworm, and 95 percent suffer from tick-bourne illnesses, she said. The rescue provides medical care before the animals are transferred.
“We’re trying to get the word out,” Good said. “Puppies and kittens are not disposable. They are valued. We need to follow our cultural belief that animals should be respected, including dogs and cats.”
The transfers provide hope for animals that otherwise would die, Good said.
“She can’t find homes for them up there,” she said. “There just isn’t a market.”
Find out more
Learn about the animals up for adoption at the Tri-County Humane Society, www.tricountyhumanesociety.org. Animals which were transferred from other shelters are identified under “Reason Surrendered” on each animal’s online profile.
More information about Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue can be found at http://redlakerosie.blogspot.com.