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Busy year at Delta Animal Shelter

Shelter was part of 1,193 adoptions, heartwarming stories in 2019

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press Mama, a 9-month-old dog that was pregnant and abandoned in 2019, is shown surrounded by her puppies at the Delta Animal Shelter recently. Mama’s story is one of the numerous animal stories that touched the hearts of the staff and volunteers at the shelter. Mama and her puppies will be adoptable in a few months.

ESCANABA — In 2019, the Delta Animal Shelter took in many animals, from strays to surrenders, and created safe environments for animals to either be reunited with their forever families or finally be adopted and go to their forever homes.

Over the course of last year, the shelter took in 1,489 animals.

“It’s a high number for us,” Sue Gartland, the director of the shelter, said. “But I think it shows the public perception that we are indeed a safe option to re-home animals.”

There is never a charge to surrender animals at the shelter.

“We want people to feel very comfortable using their local community shelter if they need to re-home animals,” Gartland said.

She explained half of the animals taken in during 2019 were surrenders and half were strays.

Reasons for surrendering an animal to the shelter includes allergies, moving, loss of job, divorce, death of a family member, and sometimes the animal needs more than what the family can provide, such as the animal’s medical reasons or activity level, Gartland said.

“We want people to know it’s okay to surrender their animals. This is what we’re here for,” she said. “We’re happy to see people trusting our adoption center, our animal shelter versus giving animals away online or social media.”

One of the animals surrendered in 2019 that stuck out to Gartland was Shadow — an older black lab that was surrendered to the shelter because the dog’s owner had to go into a nursing home.

Gartland explained a staff member at the shelter had fostered Shadow and brought her home because Shadow was terrified staying at the shelter, was older and had cancer.

Her foster mom would take Shadow to visit her owner at the nursing home.

“It was the most heartwarming and heartbreaking visits ever because Shadow was dying. But she would lay in bed at the nursing home with the owner and he would say everything sweet to her and tell her it would be ok,” Gartland said.

She added the shelter was happy to be able to do that for the owner and witness first-hand the bond between humans and animals, even though it ended sad with Shadow passing.

The Delta Animal Shelter receives all strays in Delta County.

In 2019, the shelter was able to keep safe and return to their owners 311 animals, according to Gartland.

Animals abandoned in Delta County are brought to the shelter, as well.

Gartland said Mama, a pregnant 9-month old dog, came to the shelter after being abandoned when her owners were evicted.

“She gave birth to seven beautiful babies at the safety of the shelter,” she said. “They are all doing great and will continue to grow and thrive and then get their chance at adoption in a couple months.”

The shelter also successfully coordinated 1,193 adoptions in 2019.

“All these animals come to us and they don’t know why they’re here,” Gartland said. “We make sure they’re all spayed and neutered, and then put them up for adoption and try to find them the right type of home.”

Last year, 46 cats were adopted after the shelter assisted in a hoarding case, where the cats were all living in a small trailer.

Gartland explained shelter staff assisted in bringing those cats back to the shelter and providing them with medical care.

“Every single one of them got adopted,” she said.

Another adoption story that brought a smile to Gartland’s face was the story of Piper, a cat that despite having a disability found a forever home.

“She was a cat that came to us with spina bifida,” Gartland said. “Maybe a death sentence for a cat going into other situations or other shelters, but we gave her a chance and found her a perfect home.”

The Delta Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter.

According to Gartland, the shelter is committed to saving every animal.

“Sadly in the United States over 5 million are euthanized every year just because of overpopulation,” she said. “That’s a horrible statistic that everybody should feel sad about.”

Last year, over 1,100 animals were spayed and neutered in the shelter’s effort to reduce pet overpopulation.

“We’ve also offered a trap-neuter-return program for farm cats, and fixed over a 130 — free for the farmers,” Gartland said.

Delta Animal Shelter took over providing an animal shelter from the county in 2011. Since then, the shelter has saved over 11,000 animals, according to Gartland.

“We are a community shelter, supported just by local businesses and people. We are able to do everything we do only because we have that support, and people willing to choose adoption, people willing to volunteer their time and people willing to donate for the care of so many animals,” she said.

The animals at the shelter are almost always cared for by volunteers.

At the highest point in 2019, the shelter staff and volunteers were caring for 278 animals on any given day, Gartland said.

As a way to help the animals at the shelter, Delta Animal Shelter focused on continuing and expanding its community outreach programs last year.

Gartland said the Senior Snuggles program, where young animals are brought to assisted living and nursing homes, expanded to include nine locations.

“We’ve really worked hard to engage the youth of the community — teaching them about volunteerism and caring about animals,” she said.

She noted there was an increase in enrollment to programs like the Kids Pack, Kids Care Friday for teens and the free story time program for young kids.

Last year the shelter also saw enormous support by the community.

According to Gartland, many local businesses and people supported the animal shelter through its three major fundraisers — the Bow Wow Brunch, the rummage sale and Furraiser.

“Those funds allow us to do all the medical and care for so many animals,” she said.

People who dropped of returnable cans to the shelter helped raise $11,980 last year.

Gartland said anyway people can help, the shelter accepts to meet the needs for all animals that come in.

“I just want to really extend the gratitude for the support this community gives to the animals that are homeless,” she said. “Delta County is a wonderful community and the animals all get that chance because of the support given to the shelter.”

The goals for the shelter in 2020 include the continuation of expanding the community outreach, helping people and animals in the area, opening public walking trails and increasing adoptions, according to Gartland.

She added for those that want to get involved more with the shelter or want to know more, they can stop in any time for a behind the scenes tour, join the shelter’s membership, receive the shelter’s newsletters, volunteer, and join the new friend of the shelter monthly donation group.

As of Wednesday the shelter has 12 dogs (all not ready for adoption), 43 cats, 10 rats, and a guinea pig that just had three babies (ready for adoption in a few weeks).

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