MARQUETTE - The need has never been greater for the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter.
That's because this year, anxiously waiting for adoption is the greatest number of cats in UPAWS history ... and many dogs as well.
"Between those in the building and those being fostered, there are over 100 cats waiting to be placed in a forever home," said Lareina Van Strien, UPAWS supervisor. "And we still have a lot of dogs to place, although we've had quite a few adopted recently.
"Every one of them deserves a good home."
The shelter, which has earned both state and national awards for its work in the last year, has been swamped with animals in recent times.
"In my time here, and it's my fifth summer, this is the most I have ever seen," Van Strien said. "I guess it's a combination of things happening at the same time. Many people are going through life changes. They've moving away. They've moving in with other family members. They find they have allergies. Or they find strays.
"People are comfortable in bringing animals to us, and we are glad they feel that way, but right now it's overtaxing our abilities because it's all happening at once."
There are many ways the public can help UPAWS, she said.
"The best thing they can do, of course, is to come in and adopt an animal," Van Strien said. "We always say 'don't shop, adopt' when it comes to pets. They can also spread the word for us and they can donate."
Monetary donations are always gratefully received, but there are other things people can bring in, such as food, litter, toys and blankets.
"Those things help the animals stay here for as long as it takes for us to find them a home," Van Strien said.
The public also can participate in a rummage sale that starts Friday to benefit UPAWS.
The event is set for Friday through Aug. 7 at 803 Kaye Ave. in Marquette, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
"Basically, we have been collecting donations for the past two months," Van Strien said. "We have a large amount of wonderful things for people to buy. And all funds raised will go toward the shelter."
From clothes to toys to furniture to electronics, many items have come in for the sale.
"There's even a German radio which is an old transistor with a turntable. It's in beautiful shape and probably is worth at least $700," she said.
The sale is a big event for UPAWS.
"Last year we raised $1,200 and this year, we hope to raise even more," she said.
On Sept. 10, UPAWS biggest fundraiser happens when Strut Your Mutt will take place in Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.
"It's a really fun event," Van Strien said. "It's a walkathon where participants raise pledges. It's a great day."
Two local business have recently started promotions to benefit UPAWS, she said.
Swick Home Services is paying the adoption fee for any "Lonely Hearts" pet, one that has been at UPAWS for more than two months, as well as sponsoring a Pet of the Week.
And Sacred Tattoo Studio is doing a fundraiser for UPAWS in which two grand prize winners will get two-hour tattoo sessions.
"It's always wonderful when new businesses step forward to help," she said.
For more information on any of these events/programs, call UPAWS at 475-9991 or visit the shelter at 84 Snowfield Road in Negaunee Township during its hours of operation, noon to 4 p.m. daily.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.