Delta Animal Shelter has successful year in 2016

ESCANABA — It was a busy yet successful 2016 for the Delta Animal Shelter. According to Delta Animal Shelter Manager Susan Gartland, the shelter staff couldn’t be more excited to see what 2017 has in store.

Over the past year, Gartland explained the shelter maintained its no-kill status and is currently ranked number five in the state of Michigan for open admission shelters.

One of the most notable events occurred in October when the area shelter and other selected animal shelters around Michigan held an “Empty the Shelter” event, which was sponsored by BISSELL Pet Foundation and waived adoption fees for those wishing to get a pet from a shelter that day.

At the Delta Animal Shelter, 62 animals were adopted during the event, including all of the shelter’s dogs, adoptable small animals such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rabbits, and all but 10 cats. Around the state, over 1,900 pets found homes that day.

“The Empty the Shelter event was very successful,” said Gartland.

Besides the Empty the Shelter event, the shelter adopted out and saved 1,096 animals in Delta County and took in 1,135. But their efforts are not over, noted Gartland, adding the shelter will continue to work just as hard to get the animals currently housed at the shelter homes.

Another notable occurrence for 2016 was a donation from Mary Jo Besse, which will pay off the shelter’s mortgage for over the next five years. Gartland said this was a huge relief and allows staff to focus on creating more community outreach programs such as Trap Neuter Return. The TNR program allows shelter personnel and veterinarians to go to areas, such as farms, where there are an abundance of cats and spay/neuter the felines for free.

In addition, the shelter now has the ability to spay and neuter pets right in the facility with the addition of a surgery room. Gartland explained the shelter contracts with a local veterinarian to treat the animals. Over the past year, over 1,000 animals have been spayed/neutered.

Gartland said while there were many happy times at the shelter over 2016, there were some cases of neglect and abuse that she still remembers. One such case involved two dogs who were found in a trash can and in dire need of help. Gartland added, although their beginning was not what any dog should go through, they ended up being adopted into happy homes.

Looking to 2017, one goal Gartland and other personnel wish to accomplish is the creation of a reading program where kids can come to shelter and snuggle up with a pet while enjoying a book.

“It’s a good interaction thing,” said Gartland, adding it will benefit the animals, as they will get one-on-one attention with people.

Another goal is the creation of a walking trail behind the complex that will be open to the public. Gartland explained there are about nine acres of land behind the shelter in which they hope to utilize a trail for walking dogs, or just for people to enjoy a leisurely stroll.

In the coming months, the shelter will also be holding free dog behavioral classes. The classes, Gartland explained, will focus on teaching dog parents how to deal with canines who have separation anxiety, need potty training, or any other behavioral focus.

Gartland also noted the shelter is looking for more people to volunteer and be a part of the organization and encourages anyone interested to contact the shelter for more information at 789-0230.

Overall, Gartland said the past year was one to remember.

“2016 was an incredible year,” she said, adding she and other shelter personnel would like to thank the community for their never ending support of the shelter’s mission and efforts.

“All those animals saved are because they supported our dream,” said Gartland.