Animal shelter planning begins
A Humane Society group will proceed with a business plan for an all-in-one animal shelter to serve Cass and Clay counties. The "animal resource campus" would combine the services of a municipal animal shelter, adoption agency, education center an...
A Humane Society group will proceed with a business plan for an all-in-one animal shelter to serve Cass and Clay counties.
The "animal resource campus" would combine the services of a municipal animal shelter, adoption agency, education center and low-cost clinic for spaying and neutering, said Sherri Thomsen, chairwoman of the Animal Welfare Taskforce.
Thomsen presented the campus concept Wednesday to about 20 local Humane Society members, police, veterinarians and municipal shelter workers.
The Fargo-Moorhead area's three municipal shelters lack kennel space for stray, abused and abandoned animals, Thomsen said. One shelter serves Fargo and Cass County, one serves West Fargo and the other serves Dilworth, Glyndon, Moorhead and Clay County.
Last year, the shelters had to euthanize 40 percent of the 2,252 dogs and cats impounded, either because there wasn't room at the Humane Society, their owners didn't claim them or they were unfit for release. Nearly 800 cats and 105 dogs were euthanized.
Twenty-nine percent of the animals were adopted and 31 percent were reclaimed by their owners.
Creating a central shelter with its own animal control officers offers several benefits.
The central shelter would allow cities and counties to share costs, decrease euthanasia rates and lessen the burden on local law enforcement, said Thomsen, executive director of the Minn-Kota Chapter of the American Red Cross in Fargo.
Sgt. DuWayne Nitschke said the Cass County Sheriff's Office receives five to six calls a day from people reporting stray or abused animals. The number is increasing as the population grows around Fargo, he said.
"We just don't have the manpower to handle all these animal calls," he said.
One major problem is that the municipal shelters don't accept animals given up by their owners, said Thomsen, who organized and operated a shelter in Augusta, Maine, before moving to Fargo.
Based on figures from Sioux Falls, S.D., and Grand Forks, N.D., Fargo-Moorhead's three municipal shelters should be handling about 6,700 animals per year, she said.
However, Fargo Animal Pound Supervisor Terry Stoll questioned the wisdom of a bigger shelter.
"Where do we find homes for more animals?" he said.
Thomsen referred to the glut of animal ads in the Sunday classifieds.
"There are people in this community that want to have companion animals, and if we can create a resource for them so that they don't have to go to a breeder to perpetuate that problem and they can adopt an animal that's already there, then people will certainly do that," she said.
A central campus also could end the disparity in the length of time local shelters hold animals before they're euthanized, Thomsen said. Fargo and West Fargo hold animals for three days, while Moorhead, Dilworth and Glyndon have a five-day holding period.
The task force is currently looking for a building site, which will likely be on the outskirts of the metro area so the facility can shelter seized livestock, Thomsen said.
The campus would be at least as big as the Sioux Falls Humane Society's 13,000-square-foot shelter, she said. The Sioux Falls facility has 183 dog kennels and handles about 8,000 animals per year.
Funding will be a challenge, said Elise Leitch, vice president of the Humane Society's board of directors. Money from local governments and fundraisers won't be enough, she said.
"I think we have to be able to sustain it for the long term," she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528