ESCANABA - The Delta Animal Shelter was recently voted the best animal shelter in the state in The Animal Rescue Site's annual Shelter Challenge contest. The distinction comes with a $1,000 grant for the shelter.
"What this was, was an online voting site where your supporters could go and they could vote daily," said Susan Gartland, shelter manager. "It was not just animal shelters, it was animal shelters, animal rescues, Humane Societies - anyone that dealt with animal welfare."
The shelter was entered into the competition by a volunteer. Fans and supporters of the shelter voted between April 9 and June 17, and the shelter learned that it had won Wednesday.
From left, Mary Gail Blasier, Susan Gartland, Jennifer Bloniarz and Coco the dog are proud of the accolades the Delta Animal Shelter has received. The shelter was recently voted the top shelter in the state in The Animal Rescue Site Shelter Challenge of 2012. (Daily Press photo by Ilsa Matthes)
"We took the No. 1 spot in Michigan and 18th in the nation," said Jennifer Bloniarz, animal care assistant at the shelter. The shelter staff is thrilled with the support they have received.
"Eighteenth most popular shelter in the United States - we're pretty darn proud of that," said Gartland. "Especially since we have only had this shelter since Aug. 15."
The Delta Animal Shelter was formed after Delta County determined that it could no longer financially support an animal shelter of its own. Concerned members of the Delta Area Animal Society stepped in and took over the county's shelter. Delta Animal Shelter is now an independent organization, but the society is still active as a member organization.
"This means so much to us because, like I said, we are a new organization, we rely completely on donations and the support of the community, and we just feel humbled that we are so supported," said Gartland.
The Delta Animal Shelter was supported in the contest by other shelters in the U.P., including the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter.
"Once we were in first place and other shelters in the U.P. had no chance of winning, UPAWS, they actually advertised for all their fanbase to vote for us, too," said Gartland.
"We're very touched by the amount people have turned out to vote," said Mary Gail Blasier, assistant manager.
The shelter wants to thank all of it's supporters on behalf of the animals that need assistance.
"It's the people that voted for us, we had no say in this," said Gartland.
The shelter staff has a few projects of interest, but they plan to ask for community input before deciding how to use the grant.
The staff wants to encourage people in the community to take a tour of the facility and become involved.
"If you can't adopt an animal, consider volunteering. if you can't volunteer, consider donating. If you can't donate, maybe foster. If you can't do any of that, at least spread the word about homeless animals and what can be done to decrease homeless animals in this area," said Gartland.
Since August, more than 700 animals have been adopted from the shelter.
"We are really looking for people to step up and adopt right now because our capacity is near full," said Gartland.
Because so many kittens are born this time of year, the shelter is running a special Adopt-a-Cat Month throughout June.
Cats can be adopted for $25 and kittens can be adopted for $50.
Delta Animal Shelter has other events planned.
"We're having a second chance rummage sale at the old 8th Street Coffee House, from 9 until 1 (Saturday) to raise money for animals," said Gartland.
The shelter will also be doing on site adoptions at the Bark River Outdoor Market on June 29 and 30.
More information about the Delta Animal Shelter can be found on its website at www.deltaanimal.org or by following Delta Animal Shelter on Facebook. The Animal Rescue Site can be found at www.theanimalrescuesite.com.