ESCANABA - August marks the official one-year anniversary of the Delta Animal Shelter's independent operation from the previously county-run facility, and many positive things have happened in its first year.
Delta Animal Shelter Manager Sue Gartland said in the last year more than 750 animals have been adopted and 200 lost animals were returned to their owners. The shelter also takes pride in not having to euthanize any adoptable animals.
Gartland highlighted a number of improvements made around the facility.
Delta Animal Shelter Manager Sue Gartland poses with Sampson, a hound mix puppy, in the shelter’s fenced in yard. The fenced in area is just one of the shelter’s accomplishments in its first year of independent operations. (Daily Press photo by Jason Raiche)
"I think that we've made significant improvements," she said. "The first being the fenced in yard. We now have a team of fabulous volunteers who come and work with our dogs everyday, so they get out in the big yard, they run, we have pools for them. They really get a fair amount of exercise every single day, and we're thankful for the volunteers that do that for us."
Gartland said when the county operated the shelter, the dogs were not able to go outside due to liability issues as the yard had not been fenced in.
"We've also created an intake area for the incoming cats so they're separate from the rest of the population, at which point, we evaluate their health, we test them on site for feline leukemia and FIV," she said. "We've also started an immediate vaccination program, so any animal that comes in, we vaccinate them, and it's really helped lower the incidents of disease and upper-respiratory." Gartland noted no animal leaves the shelter without being spayed and neutered.
Just recently the shelter began a new "Farm Friendlies" program for people to adopt a good working "barn" cat.
"We have cats that don't necessarily want to live in a house, but yet, they're friendly cats," Gartland explained.
The cats, which are spayed and neutered, feline leukemia-tested and up-to-date on all vaccines are available to adopt for $10 each. The shelter also is offering an adoption special through the end of August, with adult cats and kittens available for $25 and $50 respectively.
Gartland thanked all those who have volunteered at the shelter for their hard work.
"We have a great team of volunteers," she said. "We have a great membership that's really been working hard to ... have the community aware of our animals and thinking about the animal shelter. We want this to be a warm, inviting place for people to come to."
Many people she's spoken to still have not been to the shelter, and she hopes everyone in the county stops by to see that the shelter is a happy place where the animals are well taken care of. She said the shelter is an asset and if it had permanently closed, it would have been a terrible situation for the community. Gartland said support from the community has been "humbling" and "overwhelming," and emphasized the shelter is financially dependent on donations.
One way people can help out is through their upcoming fundraiser - "Ernie's Irish Pub Has Gone to the Cats and Dogs." The event takes place Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Ernie's Irish Pub. A $10 admission enters attendees for two door prizes - a professionally-designed holiday package from Enchanted Home worth $300, or a five-person Family Whitewater Trip from Wildman Adventure Ranch.
In addition, the first 150 people at the event get to choose a gift valued at $10 for themselves or their pet. Snacks will be available compliments of D&M Subs, while animal crackers and puppy chow treats will also be available for all. All proceeds benefit the Delta Animal Shelter.
The upcoming Joe Heller Memorial 5K Run/Walk/Dog Walk will also take place Sept. 8. "Joe Heller was very instrumental in this shelter forming and also with animal ordinances in the community," Gartland explained. "So it's a memorial walk for him, but all proceeds go directly to the animal shelter."
Registration for the 5K is between 8 and 8:45 a.m. at the Ludington Park Pavilion, with the race beginning at 9 a.m. Registration costs $25 and includes a t-shirt, while families of three or more costs $15 per person. This year's 5K also features an option of a pledge sheet for people to donate if they might not be able to participate in the event.
Trophies for the best overall male and female runners will be provided, as will medals for the first and second places in each division. There will be free refreshments following the race. Registration forms are available at www.deltaanimal.org. "We are always looking for people who want to join our membership to help with fundraising events," said Gartland. "It's a great way to get involved. A lot of people want to help the shelter but can't necessarily volunteer here or don't want to come and do direct animal care. If they join our membership and get involved in events such as the Ernie's event or the dog walk, it's a great way to help support us."
For more information on the Delta Animal Shelter, visit its website at www.deltaanimal.org, or visit the shelter, located at 6685 N.75 Drive in Escanaba.