Shelter saves 1,180 animals in 2017

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Special Events Coordinator Tonya Gartland spends some quality time with shelter cat, Makale, at the Delta Animal Shelter in Escanaba Tuesday afternoon.

ESCANABA — The Delta Animal Shelter in Escanaba had a successful 2017. Over the course of the past year, the area’s no-kill animal shelter saved 1,180 animals in Delta County.

“This is really a number that the community should be proud of,” said Shelter Manager Sue Gartland, noting this makes the shelter sit at a 99 percent save rate.

Included in the 1,180 animals were 292 stray pets, which were safely returned to their owners, noted Gartland. With the use of microchip technology, the power of social media outlets such as Facebook, and local law enforcement officers, animals were able to be returned back to their homes.

Animal-saving methods the shelter found successful during the past year was its Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program. The program takes farm cats and spays/neuters them at no cost to the farmer, explained Gartland. The shelter “fixed” 272 cats during the course of the program in 2017.

The Delta Animal Shelter also took part in the Bissell Pet Adoption Event twice this past year, said Gartland. In one of the events, which waived adoption fees at the shelter for a day, the shelter was nearly cleared out with a total of 49 animals finding forever homes. Of the 49 animals adopted, 38 were cats, six were dogs, and five were kittens.

In addition to saving animals, the shelter also took in countless donations of food, money, animal beds, cleaning supplies and much more, said Gartland.

In pop can donations alone, Gartland said nearly $10,000 was collected. Donations are used for medical costs for the animals housed at the shelter.

One of the bigger highlights of 2017 was receiving a new animal transport van, noted Gartland. The van, which was donated to the shelter by a donor who left the money for the vehicle in their will, is used for various animal transports including the TNR program, bringing animals to and from the veterinary office, moving animals to other U.P. shelters and more.

As for 2018, Gartland said the shelter hopes to continue its kids and community programs, including the Kids P.A.C.K and Junior P.A.C.K. “P.A.C.K” is an acronym for “positive, active, compassionate and kind.” The programs are held the first and second Tuesdays of the month at the shelter.

Both programs teach local school-aged children how to properly care for a pet, while also exposing them to the positive environment at the shelter, explained Gartland. The shelter also introduced a kids story hour held the first Saturday of each month.

For community outreach programs, Gartland said the shelter has found success in its free monthly dog behavioral class. The class, which is taught by local dog trainer Mary Gail-Blaiser, helps struggling pet parents with their difficult canines by offering them a place to learn how to improve their pet’s behavior.

The Delta Animal Shelter is also currently helping 72 families in Delta County feed their pets with its free food pantry, noted Gartland.

In late summer, Gartland said the shelter will officially open a one-mile walking trail behind the shelter’s facility in Escanaba. This trail, which will be available to the public to walk their dogs on, will be phase one of a bigger walking trail project during the next couple years.

Goals for 2018 include hosting more micro-chipping clinics at the shelter, said Gartland, adding having a pet micro-chipped makes the process of returning the animal to its owners much easier.

For those who want to be more involved with the Delta Animal Shelter and its animal-saving efforts, Gartland said shelter personnel and others host a monthly membership meeting the first Monday of each month at Ferdinand’s Restaurant in Escanaba. The next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 5, at 5:30 p.m.

Overall, Gartland said the shelter has had many accomplishments in 2017 and thanks the community for its continued efforts in supporting the shelter and the animals housed there.

“We’ve been so blessed to be so supported by the local community,” said Gartland. “It allows us to save every animal that comes to the shelter.”

For more information about the shelter or its programs, call 789-0230. The shelter can also be found on Facebook.