‘A quality of life’

One of the cats at HHS takes time away from his nap in the sunshine to say hello to a visitor. The shelter is doing everything it can to improve the quality of life for the animals until they find new homes.

ALPENA — Great strides have been made over the last several years in terms of improvements in the condition of the Huron Humane Society in Alpena and the quality of life for the animals who live there until they can find permanent homes.

Despite those improvements, and ones that will be coming in the near future, it is only a matter of time until a new facility is needed in order to meet the mission and goals of the shelter.

Several years ago, some of the dogs were housed in pens which were located near the rear of the building in an area with little light and ventilation. Thanks to volunteers such as Tom Pelkey and others, new kennels were built in an area of the facility that is brighter, cleaner and nearer to staff where the animals receive more interaction with humans. Now, the dogs have access to the outside, as their kennels have been modified to allow them to go in and out as they please, all while being secure within fencing. One of the cat rooms also has a door where cats can access the outdoors, where they have toys, beds, and things to climb on.

Humane Society board President Cindy Johnson said proper care of the animals and making sure they have clean, safe and comfortable living quarters is one of the highest priorities of HHS.

“Providing a quality of life for the animals while they are with us is important because most times the things they have gone through before they ended up here is usually not good,” Johnson said. “It is important while they are here we offer as much comfort as we can, proper medication and vet care and just make sure they are as healthy and happy as they can be.”

Johnson said staff and volunteers spend as much time with the animals as they can. The dogs go for walks and play in the new dog park built at the shelter and learn to overcome any social issues they may have had when arriving. Johnson said that, besides caring for the animals, the HHS tries to prepare the animals for their adoption, new home and forever family.

“The more kindness we show them and the more positive interactions they have with people, the better pets they will be,” she said. “It is important the staff has these interactions, as well as the board, volunteers and public when they visit. Even if you don’t think you’re going to adopt, just that human contact with them is really important.”

There has been a big shake-up on the HHS Board of Directors in the last year, but when you visit the shelter it is clear the efforts of the prior board and the new one have made sure the shelter is a better place for staff, visitors and, most importantly, the animals. The shelter is well-lit, clean and odors are at a minimum. The former Re-Tails shop, which was downtown, will soon be opened at the facility and will help generate revenue for operations.

Although most of the news at the shelter is good, Johnson said there is still a lot to do. She said the building is still old and costly to maintain. She said it won’t be long before a new shelter needs to be built.

“This can’t be and won’t be our forever home,” Johnson said. “We will do what we need to do to make this building is the best it can be for the animals, but we will be starting a capital campaign in the next six months to a year and begin to come up with a plan for a new building.”

Johnson said donations at the shelter are always welcome. She said monetary donations are always helpful, as well as cat litter, towels, vinegar and most anything needed to care for a dog or cat. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.