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Hawk Creek Animal Shelter needs some extra green in its stocking this year

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune The Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter needed to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the shelter for the safety and well-being of its animals. The HVAC project was an unplanned expense and the shelter is now in the red and needing donations.1 / 2
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune The Hawk Creek Animal Shelter provides a safe haven for animals needing new homes. The shelter gives each animal a lot of love and attention, including needed veterinary care such as spay or neutering, vaccinations and micro chipping.2 / 2

WILLMAR —As individuals and businesses donate in the spirit of the season, the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter in Willmar is hoping the community doesn't forget the animals, especially this year as the shelter is facing financial hardships due to unexpected costs.

"We provide much needed services," said Bobbie Bauman, director of shelter operations.

The complete replacement of the shelter's heating, ventilation and cooling system, along with rising costs in operating the shelter, has caused a $47,000 deficit at the shelter this year, causing the organization to dip into its limited reserves. And it is putting a squeeze on resources.

While the current shelter building is relatively new, opened in 2009, the original HVAC system has been unable to keep up with the demands of running an animal shelter. The system has been inefficient in removing humidity from the large dog room and the air circulation is poor throughout the building.

"It wasn't doing the job it was supposed to do," said Dick Reitsma, chair of the Humane Society Board of Directors. "It was unpredictable."

In the past two summers the shelter has dealt with serious illnesses with the dogs, and the staff at the shelter feel the humidity levels are part of the cause.

"We had some really sick animals," Bauman said.

The board decided to go ahead and replace HVAC system, even though it wasn't a budgeted expense.

"We had no alternative but to replace the system with one engineered to work," Reitsma said.

The large dog room was completed this year. The rest of the project will be completed in 2019.

"It is a huge improvement," Bauman said.

However the cost of the project, though needed for the welfare of the animals, has put the shelter's budget out of balance. The board of directors has started discussing ways to cut back on expenses and reduce the amount of reserve funds it will need to use.

"Where do you make that up?" Reitsma asked. "We are struggling with how much we cut back."

There has been talk about closing the shelter a day or two more a week, but neither Bauman or Reitsma want that.

"If you're closed, people aren't coming in to adopt," Bauman said.

To date, the shelter has helped 2,027 dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and even a chinchilla this year. In 2017, the shelter found new homes for 1,056 animals.

"And we are not done yet," Bauman said.

The shelter not only takes in pets needing new homes and strays found around the two county area, they also provide much needed veterinary care. There are also building expenses and labor costs for the shelter's paid staff, all of which takes money.

"What we get for adoption fees doesn't cover the costs we put into each animal," Bauman said.

The shelter does receive annual allotments from both counties and the city of Willmar. For 2019, Kandiyohi County has budgeted $37,000, Meeker County $14,000 and Willmar $38,000. It also receives donations from the community.

However, for the shelter to continue to operate at its high standard and continue to be a safe haven for thousands of animals, it needs a little more help this year.

"We have been blessed with estates. We do have regular donors, very generous people," Bauman said. "We just need a few more."

Donations to the Humane Society of Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties can be completed online, by going to the shelter's website at http://www.thehskmc.com. For more information or questions the shelter's phone number is 320-235-7612.

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