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City asked to continue cuddly contract

Touting improvements, Humane Society asks council for $20K agreement

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Huron Humane Society employee Stacy Newhouse on Wednesday gives some love to one of the cats at the shelter that is looking for a new home. In a little more than a year, the average stay at the facility has been reduced from 151 days to 20 days, but there are still many fuzzy friends available for adoption.

ALPENA — In 2019, the Huron Humane Society took in 551 cats and dogs from Alpena County, 348 of them from Alpena, a shelter official told the Alpena Municipal Council this week.

The cost to care for each animal is roughly $460, Huron Humane Society Vice President Mary Eagan told the council.

The number of animals sheltered is down from 2018, when 621 dogs and cats were taken in.

Eagan asked council members to continue helping fund the shelter by renewing the city’s service contract and allocating $20,000 from the city’s 2020-21 budget to help cover the cost of caring for animals from the city.

Eagan said that amount would only cover about $57 of the overall cost for each animal, and doesn’t include the additional costs of spay and neuter services, vet visits, and labor.

In other words, it is a bargain for the city, she said.

“Animals from the city of Alpena are given priority admission into HHS because of the service contract HHS has with the city,” Eagan said in her report to the council. “This is especially true during kitten season, when city of Alpena kittens and cats jump felines from other geographic areas on he HHS cat waiting list.”

In 2019, the shelter saw a sharp decline in the number of dogs taken in from the city, from 107 in 2018 to 62 last year. Eagan attributed the drop to Alpena County’s animal control department taking in more stray dogs.

The county allowed its service contract with HHS to expire in 2017. Now, strays taken by the county are kept at a building at the county fairgrounds. Eagan said HHS is still hoping the county will renew its partnership with the shelter.

“The animal control deputy now seizes all stray dogs, even those that are brought to HHS by responsible citizens,” she said. “That has reduced the number of dogs we have at the shelter.”

Perhaps most impressive, Eagan said HHS has been able to shorten the average stay for animals from 151 days in January 2018 to only 20 days in January of last year, and that timeframe is consistent, still.

“The Huron Humane Society is no longer a warehouse for homeless pets, but a temporary safe haven where they can be tested, treated, vaccinated, and cared for until they find a loving home,” Eagan said. “Social media and our new e-newsletter have helped to get animals adopted and keeps animal lovers informed about HHS and the animals it helps.”

Eagan went on to list many improvements made at the shelter and equipment purchased to help keep the facility clean. A vehicle also was donated to the shelter, she said. The shelter will use the vehicle to shuttle the animals to and from vet appointments and other needs.

She said the shelter’s new building fund at the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan is still on the rise, and there may be some type of update on a possible new home for HHS.

“We hope to have a very exciting announcement soon,” she said.

The city has allocated money to HHS for many years and the council will determine soon if it will again.

Alpena’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

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