Humane Society struggling through difficult period

Dogs and cats don’t worry about the economy, but perhaps they should.

Like almost all other agencies, organizations and businesses in Estevan these days, the Estevan Humane Society is dealing with difficult times and circumstances.

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“This year and last year have been difficult for everybody,” said Jane Howard, the society’s volunteer secretary.

“We’ve reduced public hours, we’re dealing with a large cat and kitten population and we’re trying to get the word out about such things as backyard breeding practices that we’re now seeing a lot of around here that just make it more difficult for all of us,” said Howard. She said backyard breeding programs may sound like the thing to do by owners deciding to place purebred dogs or cats together to produce puppies or kittens that they think will be classified as purebred, too. But, they won’t be, since rarely is the proper certification, practices or registration procedures pursued by the amateur breeder, that will officially verify the offspring as purebred. Too often, she said, the local animal shelter ends up with the end products or the overbred mother dog or cat who has been compromised, or even abused in the process.

Howard said the shelter’s fee structure also needs to be understood insofar as most of the $75 or more adoption fee is refundable after the new owner provides acceptable documentation that the adopted pet has been spayed or neutered. The actual fee is closer to $25, she said and even as low as $15 for some cats and kittens.

The local society still maintains a no-euthanasia policy with the rare exceptions that might involve an animal in such poor health that “putting it down,” is the only alternative. Howard cited a few examples of the shelter’s adherence to the “no-kill” edict by mentioning one dog that was a shelter regular for three years before getting adopted while another dog has been in their care for almost a year while continuing to progress on his socialization skills.

“Now we have to make room for more dogs and, for certain, more cats and we are seeing more of them being relinquished to us because of the local economy. People are moving or they can’t afford to keep their pet, so they come to us.”

Because of the need for fresh funding for an increased animal population, the Humane Society is planning a pretty aggressive activities calendar for the rest of the year.

One of their key events, the annual Dog Jog is being bumped up to June 4 this year and it will be held in Rotary Park located in the Souris River Woodlawn Regional Park and it will include a smoker cook-off competition, among other things. Shelter board members, volunteers and participants are “out there getting pledges rounded up right now,” said Howard.

“We are seeing some fantastic support, the community we believe, is still with us. Kids are donating their birthday funds that they ask for on behalf of the shelter in lieu of personal birthday presents. We’re also holding a Cupcake Day and in August there will be an Art Day to support the shelter, then in September, we’re planning on a Steak Night fundraiser. We have to be out there,” she added. “Even if you just show up to say hi, buy a hot dog and carry on, it will help us.” 

The regular team of volunteers have been instrumental in keeping the dogs exercised and keeping both cats and dogs socialized but more volunteers would be welcomed.

“Naturally, we’d always welcome new board members, people who are interested in the welfare of our city’s animals. Just contact the shelter and they’ll connect you to one of us,” said Howard referring to the one nearly full-time employee who has accepted a new 32-hour work week and the four part-time and casual assistants.

“We can’t cut more than that and still take care of the animals. We have cut public visiting time, but the regular washings, kennel scrubbing and feeding and exercising has to continue. A lot of that is done by volunteers, as well as, staff and, of course, staff and the board members put in a lot of volunteer time there, too, because we know how important the service is in the community,” said Howard.

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