October 20, 2018

Arenac County Animal Control recognized for improvement

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STANDISH — Arenac County Animal Control was recognized by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance as the most improved open-admission small shelter of 2017 for improving its live release rate by 13 percent.

Each year, MPFA uses data submitted to the state by all licensed animal shelters to calculate each shelter’s live release rate, which includes adoptions, lost pets returned to owners, and animals transferred to other shelters and rescue groups that have space, an MPFA press release states.

The shelter was honored to receive recognition for its efforts, Director Catherine Lemunyon said, but she added that the honor goes beyond the shelter.

“I look at it as kind of recognition for the community,” Lemunyon said. “We have a very good community-based program here and our community supports what we do here. We have a lot of people who donate, and that’s not so much just money, a lot of people donate their time and resources.”

While there is no one thing Lemunyon attributes the improvements to, she said within the past years, the shelter has done several small things that have improved its live release rate.

“Sometimes it’s those small things that lead to the best results over time,” Lemunyon said. “We’ve certainly revamped and taken a real hard look at our cat situation here.”

Lemunyon said cats had been a problem in the area due to a lack of adoptions. Since then, the shelter has established an affordable spay and neuter program that has decreased the influx of kittens in the spring, summer and fall.

“The other thing that we have done is worked within our means,” Lemunyon said. “We are a very small shelter. There’s one full-time person and one part-time person here and so we have to take in the amount of animals that the two of us can reasonably care for.”

Because some animals and breeds aren't as popular in Arenac County, the shelter has also worked with partners to find homes for animals outside the area where there is more of a demand, Lemunyon said.

“With those partnerships, we are able to transfer dogs to other shelters and cats to other shelters and vice versa,” Lemunyon said. “So when we help each other, ultimately we all end up helping animals and reaching our goals.”

The shelter is currently working toward improving its cat housing situation and would like to add indoor and outdoor dog runs to the facility, Lemunyon said. The runs would allow the dogs to get more exercise, fresh air and exposure to people, which would help their chances of being adopted, Lemunyon said.

The goal of the shelter is to benefit the health and safety of the community at large, Lemunyon said, by providing education, resources and assistance to those who need help.

“Sometimes people fall on hard times and a shelter is not necessarily a bad place for an animal if someone is going through hard times and they aren't able to financially care for their animal,” Lemunyon said. “Bringing it here, at least it’s going to get fed and played with every day and brought up to medical standards and made healthy and be made ready for adoption.”

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