Celebrating 30 years of kindness and care
Thirty years ago, four Pope County women shared a vision of kindness and care for area animals in need. With limited resources, but a will to put their vision to practice, June Iverson, Lorraine Gandrud, Willow Feigum and Mary Pooler dug in and founded the Pope County Humane Society in 1985. Since that time, countless abandoned, lost or stray dogs and cats have found shelter, medical care and ultimately, new and loving homes.
And that’s reason to celebrate.
PCHS is a no-kill shelter, meaning the animals are cared for as long as it takes to match them up with a second chance. Each year in Pope County, more than 200 animals are impounded or surrendered.
Nancy Erickson has been the manager at PCHS for three months. She said in that short time, she’s seen 16 cats and 13 dogs adopted into new homes. Erickson, a veterinary technician and certified dog trainer, verified that the original intent of care established by Iverson, Gandrud, Feigum and Pooler remains strong.
Looking out from her desk at kennels full of cats and kittens, Erickson said with a laugh, “If I could, I’d take everybody home.” On a more serious note, she added that the staff and volunteers truly care for the dogs and cats in their charge. “We would like more of them to get their forever homes,” she said. “As much as we love them here, we’d love to see them go home faster.”
One of her favorite moments so far, she said, was seeing a bond of friendship develop and remain intact as two buddies were adopted and headed to a new home together. Henry, a hound mix, and Alia, a husky mix born at PCHS, were both adopted by the same person and now live on a 13-acre farm. “They absolutely love it,” said Erickson. “It’s nice to see that they were able to get out together—they were really good friends here.”
Come join the party
Erickson invited the community to celebrate the shelter’s 30th anniversary with volunteers and staff at an open house set for Saturday, Oct. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. PCHS is located at 17584 195th Ave. in Glenwood.
It’s a party meant for the whole family, featuring free lunch, kids’ games, a raffle opportunity, $1 grab bags and more. For a $20 donation, families can have a portrait done by a professional photographer, too. And, as always, the shelter animals would love some admiration and attention.
How to help the Humane Society
“Funding is the biggest thing,” said Erickson. Currently, PCHS has two dogs in-house for adoption and one in foster care, plus two dogs on impound—meaning the shelter is waiting for their owners to claim them. On the feline side of things, PCHS is home to 14 adult cats and 12 kittens waiting for second-chance homes.
“Being a nonprofit means that we’re surviving off of donations and grants,” said Erickson. “It is $15 per day per animal to keep the place running—that’s what our expenses are.”
The current PCHS building was constructed in 2004 and, like other 11-year-old buildings, could use some love.
“We’d like to put in a new ventilation system which would be healthier for the animals,” said Erickson. She explained that being situated close to a gravel road, the building takes in its share of dust. “Ventilation would take that out, and clean, fresh air would come in. Even though our cats can’t get outside, they’d still get the fresh air from outside,” said Erickson.
Working toward that goal, the shelter has set up an online “giving grid.” The site was set up specifically to raise money for the PCHS ventilation system, which will run about $18,000. Visit www.givinggrid.com/pchsmn for more information or to make a donation.
Something else on the shelter’s wish list is the addition of more cat kennels, and there’s a supply list of items needed for day-to-day operations.
Calling all volunteers
Besides funding, PCHS is always looking for more volunteers to come in to play with the animals during open hours, said Erickson. “As staff, we try to work with the animals as much as we can, but they don’t always get that extra love and attention because we’re trying to keep the building clean and maintain things.”
Erickson said PCHS provides a learning opportunity as well—on both sides of the kennel. “It’s great to have kids come in,” she said. “They learn how to be gentle with the dogs and cats, and the dogs and cats learn to socialize with little kids.”
Every dollar, every volunteer hour helps. As Erickson pointed out, the numbers show that there are a lot of dogs and cats in need. PCHS literally provides a shelter from the storm. “This is a safe place for them,” said Erickson. “They can come here, get trained, get the medical care that they need, and find new homes.” And with the dedication of a community, volunteers and staff, PCHS is looking ahead to its next 30 years of kindness and care in Pope County.
Photo by Deb Mercier