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Aileen Clarke, left, and Kaia Halbritter play Tuesday with a kitten named Alfalfa at Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Number of cats and dogs at Willmar, Minn.'s, Hawk Creek Animal Shelter grows

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WILLMAR -- The number of cats and dogs coming through the doors of the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar has been steadily increasing, especially since the new shelter opened two years ago in Willmar.

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The number of animals leaving the shelter alive, to be claimed by their owners or adopted by new owners, has also been increasing.

"We've never been in stronger shape," said Steve Gardner, chairman of the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties, in a report Tuesday to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

In 2005 there were 613 animals brought to the shelter. In 2011 there were 1,627.

Handling 1,000 more animals a year now than six years ago is significant, said Gardner, adding that the health of the animals is better now than ever and the number of "live outcomes" has been increasing

Gardner said the "partnership and leadership" of Kandiyohi and Meeker counties and the city of Willmar that helped fund construction of the facility in the fall of 2009 is a big reason for the improved numbers.

He said in 2005 the old facility had a 70 percent live outcome rate.

Last year the live outcome rate was about 80 percent and the current rate is nearly 86 percent, said Gardner, adding that a 90 percent rate is considered a no kill rate by "responsible" animal advocates.

Gardner said the new shelter, better protocols for maintaining animal health and a partnership with veterinarians for spaying and neutering animals -- along with dedicated staff and volunteers -- has resulted in better outcomes.

The number of adoptions increased from 189 animals in 2005 to 873 animals in 2011.

"We're not just in the business of saving animals but putting people and pets together," he said, adding that dealing with homeless cats and dogs can be heart-warming and heart-breaking.

Considering the large jump in total numbers of animals brought to the shelter, the number of those euthanized has been kept in check.

In 2005 there were 149 animals euthanized. In 2011 there were 290.

Gardner said an outside consultant is working with the board and staff to increase the organizational and fundraising capacity, which includes a leadership council that will serve as animal advocates in the community.

"We are truly blessed to be in a community that values animals and people as much as they do," said Gardner.

On Thursday night, that community partnership will be on display when the first annual Bark in the Park will be held during the Willmar Stingers' baseball game at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Dog owners are invited to bring their pets to the ball game.

Tickets sales, including $10 for people and $7 for dogs, will go the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties.

Each dog will get a bandana and there will be refreshment centers for animals throughout the ballpark.

There will be a dog parade with adopted and adoptable pets, and dogs will even participate in games, like the race to home plate that happens in between innings. Participants can register to win prizes that will be given away at the end of the ball season, said Gardner.

"I encourage you all to bring your pooch to the ballpark," said Gardner. "Just, please, pick up after your pet."

In other action:

n The commissioners accepted the final phase one report from Springsted Inc. regarding potential changes to the organizational structure of the county's auditor/treasurer, recorder and assessor's departments. The phase two report, which will address the family service, public health and community corrections departments, will be presented to the board Aug. 14.

The commissioners will conduct work sessions to discuss the reports in September.

n Acting as the Board of Equalization, the commissioners agreed to lower the valuation of a residential lot on Green Lake owned by Bill Taunton Jr. by $100,000. The city of Spicer had lowered the market property value by $50,000 but Taunton appealed to the county seeking a greater reduction. After viewing the property, the commissioners agreed the county assessor's valuation was too high.

n The commissioners approved a plan to participate with Douglas, Pope and Swift counties to place interpretive kiosks and signs along the Glacial Ridge Trail. Funded primarily with a federal grant, the $100,000 project includes a $4,580 contribution from each county.

-0-

WILLMAR -- The number of cats and dogs coming through the doors of the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar has been steadily increasing, especially since the new shelter opened two years ago in Willmar.

The number of animals leaving the shelter alive, to be claimed by their owners or adopted by new owners, has also been increasing.

"We've never been in stronger shape," said Steve Gardner, chairman of the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties, in a report Tuesday to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

In 2005 there were 613 animals brought to the shelter. In 2011 there were 1,627.

Handling 1,000 more animals a year now than six years ago is significant, said Gardner, adding that the health of the animals is better now than ever and the number of "live outcomes" has been increasing

Gardner said the "partnership and leadership" of Kandiyohi and Meeker counties and the city of Willmar that helped fund construction of the facility in the fall of 2009 is a big reason for the improved numbers.

He said in 2005 the old facility had a 70 percent live outcome rate.

Last year the live outcome rate was about 80 percent and the current rate is nearly 86 percent, said Gardner, adding that a 90 percent rate is considered a no kill rate by "responsible" animal advocates.

Gardner said the new shelter, better protocols for maintaining animal health and a partnership with veterinarians for spaying and neutering animals -- along with dedicated staff and volunteers -- has resulted in better outcomes.

The number of adoptions increased from 189 animals in 2005 to 873 animals in 2011.

"We're not just in the business of saving animals but putting people and pets together," he said, adding that dealing with homeless cats and dogs can be heart-warming and heart-breaking.

Considering the large jump in total numbers of animals brought to the shelter, the number of those euthanized has been kept in check.

In 2005 there were 149 animals euthanized. In 2011 there were 290.

Gardner said an outside consultant is working with the board and staff to increase the organizational and fundraising capacity, which includes a leadership council that will serve as animal advocates in the community.

"We are truly blessed to be in a community that values animals and people as much as they do," said Gardner.

On Thursday night, that community partnership will be on display when the first annual Bark in the Park will be held during the Willmar Stingers' baseball game at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Dog owners are invited to bring their pets to the ball game.

Tickets sales, including $10 for people and $7 for dogs, will go the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties.

Each dog will get a bandana and there will be refreshment centers for animals throughout the ballpark.

There will be a dog parade with adopted and adoptable pets, and dogs will even participate in games, like the race to home plate that happens in between innings. Participants can register to win prizes that will be given away at the end of the ball season, said Gardner.

"I encourage you all to bring your pooch to the ballpark," said Gardner. "Just, please, pick up after your pet."

In other action:

- The commissioners accepted the final phase one report from Springsted Inc. regarding potential changes to the organizational structure of the county's auditor/treasurer, recorder and assessor's departments. The phase two report, which will address the family service, public health and community corrections departments, will be presented to the board Aug. 14.

The commissioners will conduct work sessions to discuss the reports in September.

- Acting as the Board of Equalization, the commissioners agreed to lower the valuation of a residential lot on Green Lake owned by Bill Taunton Jr. by $100,000. The city of Spicer had lowered the market property value by $50,000 but Taunton appealed to the county seeking a greater reduction. After viewing the property, the commissioners agreed the county assessor's valuation was too high.

- The commissioners approved a plan to participate with Douglas, Pope and Swift counties to place interpretive kiosks and signs along the Glacial Ridge Trail. Funded primarily with a federal grant, the $100,000 project includes a $4,580 contribution from each county.

-0-

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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