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Humane Society over capacity

IN NEED:Kennel assistant Nick Byer visits with dogs in some of the recently-added kennels at the Marion-Grant County Humane Society shelter on Monday. Even after changes that transformed six kennels into sixteen, there are not enough kennels to meet the shelter’s needs.

BY Sara Barker - sbarker@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion-Grant Humane Society is over capacity so often that volunteer Sue Kershner can’t remember when it wasn’t.

“I don’t know if it’s ever not too crowded. I don’t know what to compare it to,” Kershner said. “It’s always that way.”

Its current numbers are no exception. Humane Society Board President Brenda Volmer said 45 dogs and 87 cats are being kept at the shelter, not including the cats in foster care.

The no-kill shelter, which is funded entirely from donations, recently built new kennels for its dogs. While the renovations are being finalized, dogs were placed in temporary individual cages, which the bigger dogs nearly destroyed.

It also recently re-roofed its building with donor money, which Volmer said was leaking badly.

Other donations, like paper towels, bleach and cat litter go a long way, and Volmer said the Grant County community is excellent at providing supplies when the shelter needs them most.

Right now, shelter workers said cans of wet cat food are running particularly low.

At the same time, people interested in donating their time don’t need to have qualifications, Volmer said.

“They just need to show up,” Volmer said.

Although volunteer cleaners are always needed, Volmer said those wanting to give their time can walk the dogs, sit with the cats, do laundry or pull weeds outside.

And though the Humane Society adopts animals out, Kershner said irresponsible pet ownership is the main reason why the shelters are overcrowded to start.

“For every [animal] that you help, there’s 20 more,” Kershner said. “It’s never-ending. You’re never going to be done until people are responsible -- until ordinances are enforced.”

Grant County has an ordinance that states pets must be spayed or neutered by the time they are six months old, or else the owner, if they are not a licensed breeder, will face a fine.

Both Volmer and Kershner said this ordinance is not enforced. This, they said, along with a lack of commitment some have to the well-being of their animals, puts the shelter over capacity.

Kershner, who owns eight dogs herself, doesn’t understand the logic behind giving up a dog. When dogs are returned to the shelter or neglected, Kershner takes it personally.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “That’s my first feeling. Absolute heartbreak. I don’t know if people realize [the dogs] have feelings.”

Volmer said pet owner irresponsibility accounts for much of the problems at the Humane Society.

In fact, some pet owners will threaten the Humane Society with dumping their dog on the roadside if the shelter doesn’t come pick up the dog for them, regardless of if the owner originally adopted the dog from the shelter, Volmer said.

“Adopting animals is never going to be the answer to the overpopulation problem,” Volmer said.