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A small orange kitten surveys the world through the wire bars of its crate at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter. A high kitten population has overflowed the shelter this fall. Tribune photo by Anne Polta

Animal shelter issues plea for help with high kitten census

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- It's raining cats and kittens at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter.

The shelter issued an appeal to the public this week to help by either adopting a cat or making a financial donation to sponsor a cat.

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"We are just so bombarded," said Bobbie Bauman, operations director at the animal shelter. "It's nationwide. A lot of shelters are struggling."

At last count, more than 40 felines, mostly kittens, were waiting at the shelter for someone to adopt them. Space is so tight that staff has resorted to moving four large crates into the reception area to house the overflow from the shelter's kitten room.

It's normal to see a furry flood of unwanted kittens in the fall, Bauman said. But this year it's greater than usual, partly because the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter now takes in animals from Meeker County as well as Kandiyohi County, she said. "People know we're here and we get a lot of calls."

The economy might also be a factor, Bauman said.

The high census means the shelter has temporarily stopped accepting cats and kittens who are surrendered by their owners. Although strays will continue to be accepted through the shelter's impound contract with the city of Willmar, individuals who want to give up a personal pet will be asked to make their own arrangements. Bauman said it'll probably be January before there's room to start taking surrendered cats again.

Shelter staff are hoping donor sponsorships, coupled with discounts on the kitten adoption fee, will help as many kittens as possible find a home.

The sponsorships enable the adoption fee to be reduced from $105 to $50, Bauman said. The discount will be offered for as long as the sponsorship money lasts.

An e-mail plea sent out by the shelter last week netted about $900 in donations within the first few hours. Bauman said it allowed the shelter to place 10 kittens at a reduced fee, but there are still many cats waiting for homes and a need for more sponsorship donations.

"We have probably 30 more (cats) to go," she said.

Prevention is still the best way to avoid future unwanted kittens and the burden on animal shelters, Bauman said. Her advice: "Spay and neuter!"

All the kittens available for adoption have been screened for their suitability as an animal companion. They've also successfully passed a health check and have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped.

Donations can be dropped off in person at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter, 250 28th St. S.W., Willmar, or mailed to Box 709, Willmar, Minn. 56201. The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Supporters of the shelter also can arrange to have a donation automatically deducted from their bank account each month. Information on how to sign up for this option is available at the shelter or at the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County's website, www.thehskc.com.

Since moving into a brand-new building almost one year ago, the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter has seen a sharp upswing in the number of unwanted animals coming through the door. From Jan. 1 through September of this year, 1,117 dogs and cats have been admitted. For the same period last year it was 886. Fewer than 20 percent are euthanized, mainly for behavioral or health issues. The rest are either adopted, claimed by their owner or transferred to another shelter.

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