Animal shelter provides update
MANISTIQUE – Representatives from the Eva Burrell Animal Shelter were on hand to provide an update on the facility during Tuesday’s meeting of the Manistique City Council. The facility was recently allocated yearly funds from the city.
According to Char Crosby, shelter director, the facility currently houses between 120 and 250 dogs and cats each year. The number, she added, varies based on numerous factors, such as the economy.
“By the end of this year, we will have been opened 13 years and we have adopted over 3,000 cats and dogs,” she said. “Each one of those has been spayed and neutered, in compliance with Michigan state law – we’re not at all interested in perpetuating our business.”
In addition to providing necessities for the animals, such as food, socialization, healthcare and training, Crosby noted the shelter individualizes each animal’s experience.
“We just don’t house animals,” she said. “We assess them, we tend to their needs, we provide basic obedience training and then carefully try to place them in homes that will last … We are a ‘quality of life’ shelter, and we really work hard to maintain that title.”
The shelter has also worked to expand its service offerings. Community-wide services, such as providing bedding straw to families with outdoor pets and a food assistance program for families struggling to feed their pets are new additions to the facility. The shelter also offers a “modest” medical program, Crosby added.
In addition to these services, shelter volunteers have also been actively helping local law enforcement in animal control efforts, she explained. Providing help to families with unruly pets is also a priority.
“We try to forestall animals being surrendered to the shelter because of behavioral problems, so we assist in individual training; advice,” Crosby said.
Volunteers are trained to assist community members correct pet problems before it leads to abandonment of the animal or surrender to the shelter, she added.
For population control, the shelter not only abides by the statemandated neuter/spaying of all animals entering the facility, it also has a program to assist community members to obtain these procedures for their own pets. With the assistance of donors and grants, Crosby said the shelter was able to raise $10,000 to offer a community spay/neuter program. Thompson Veterinary Clinic waives pre-exam fees for program participants, and the shelter pays 50-75 percent of the spay/neuter cost.
“So far, we’ve had over about 115 people take advantage of that,” she said. “We had hoped more people with cats would do that, because we seem to have more of a cat problem than we do a canine problem.”
If funding is again possible, Crosby said the shelter will renew the program.
Another successful program of the shelter is a dog training program conducted by select inmates of the Alger Correctional Facility. Using 20 pre-screened inmates from the prison, the shelter is able to train dogs to later be adopted by the public.
“The warden tells us the tenor of the prison is much more pleasant, it just lowers the anxiety,” Crosby said. “The inmates who are involved in the program have pride, they have accomplished something. They have learned compassion, they have learned patience; they have learned perseverance, because they want to see these dogs succeed.”
In addition to the effect on the prisoners, the program has also had a positive effect on the shelter – reducing the number of dogs in the shelter, and relieving stress for shelter volunteers. Since the dogs are not in the shelter, and with an individual at all times, Crosby said training is consistent, something not always possible at the strained shelter.
“Our volunteers – they’re remarkable,” she said. “The only thing I could say about them is that we need more. It’s a hard job; it’s very rewarding – the rewards far outweigh the heartbreaks.”
The continued effort from those involved in the shelter, along with the programs that garner community support, allow for the shelter to remain sustainable, Crosby explained.
“Fortunately, we have a very supportive community and we have some very loyal patrons and volunteers, and that makes the shelter a success,” she said.