Good Shepherd transports animals to Michigan shelter

Thursday, July 29, 2021
Nik Hostetter, an animal care technician at Good Shepherd Humane Society, takes animals to a shelter in Michigan while employees from the Humane Society of Midland County look on.
Submitted photo

Good Shepherd Humane Society Adoption Center sent several dogs and a few cats to a shelter in Michigan last week.

Cole Wakefield, director of animal operations, said the adoption center transported 12 dogs and five cats to the shelter as part of an incentive from Best Friends Animal Society. One of the dogs was the last long-term dog at the adoption center, Wakefield said. He said the transport will allow the animals to find homes where there’s a shortage in animals available to adopt.

“This is really cool because we’ve been operating at capacity, so between this and our adoption event, we are going to essentially reset the shelter,” Wakefield said. “We’re in a time of peak demand for sheltering. We have lots of animals we haven’t been able to take in because we’ve been full with adoptions down.”

Another benefit of resetting the shelter, Wakefield said, is giving the staff a break from caring for so many animals at once.

“We can get some things reorganized. We have some programs we’re going to implement,” Wakefield said. “Our animal services provider just came back from a certification course. This will give him the chance to train some of our staff on our new enrichment programs.”

Wakefield added, “It gives us a breath, which we need after being slammed and at capacity for so long. We’re happy about it.”

Wakefield announced last week that the adoption center will be moving to an emergency standby status because of the spike in local COVID-19 cases. The public-facing operations will remain unaffected, Wakefield said, but the adoption center will increase the number of kennels held for emergency cases to accommodate the potential influx of pets needing shelter because of the death or prolonged illness of one of their caregivers.

“We just want to be sure that we have the capacity to handle any influx of animals in need due to owner incapacitation,” Wakefield said. “We took similar action at the beginning of the pandemic, but it turned out to be unnecessary. Hopefully, it will be the same this time.”

Wakefield said it’s important that people still take care of their animals, even if there’s more room available at the adoption center.

“Even though we have space, it doesn’t mean we can automatically take every animal that comes to us,” Wakefield said. “We always have to assess based upon the urgency of the situation, what we anticipate may be coming in and how many kennels need to stay available for emergencies.”

The adoption center’s capacity for dogs varies between 20 and 25, depending on the size and age of the dogs.

“If we have a litter of puppies, of course, they can be housed in one kennel,” Wakefield said. “That may take the number higher. Sometimes we hold dogs in different situations that may not actually be in our adoption count, but we’re holding them for safe keeping.”

Wakefield said the adoption center is overwhelmed with cats, particularly kittens. Sending five cats to Michigan, Wakefield said, barely makes a difference in the number of cats at the adoption center.

“We’re sitting at over 50 cats, so that is beyond our normal capacity,” Wakefield said. “A lot of them are kittens, which is why we have so many, but those guys are quickly growing.”

Wakefield said many of the young kittens are available for adoption after the last spay and neuter clinic. The adoption center couldn’t transport more cats, Wakefield said, because shelters everywhere are dealing with the same issue.

“The capacity issues are happening at a lot of places that normally take transports,” Wakefield said. “It’s that time of the year. We are overcrowded on cats, so come adopt cats.”

Wakefield said the adoption center always prefers to adopt animals locally. It’s expensive to transport animals to another state, Wakefield said.

“We also think there’s great value in providing healthy, vaccinated, vetted, spayed and neutered pets to the local populace, so we really try our best to adopt locally as much as we can,” Wakefield said. “But sometimes, just for the sake of the animals, we need to go ahead and transport.”

Wakefield said the adoption center is in need of many resources, including cat food, dog food, thrift store donations and financial donations.

“You can make donations online through Facebook or by sending us a check or bringing money directly to the thrift stores or the adoption center,” Wakefield said. “All that stuff is important and as we continue to see an increase in demand, all of that is going to be more and more important.”

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