Pincher Creek Humane Society’s shelter is filled beyond normal capacity, and Bella and her friends are in need of more support from volunteers and donors. With a recent increase in surrendered animals, PCHS president Kelly Lepine is calling for more responsible ownership practices such as fixing and chipping to keep pets out of the shelter system.Shannon Robison

Pincher Creek Humane Society is well over its capacity to house and care for dogs and cats, and in need of community support.

While the typical capacity is 10 dogs and 24 cats, the shelter is currently housing 21 dogs and 43 cats, with five dogs and 10 cats in the foster program.

Mama Charlotte and her 10 pups moved into the shelter recently when her owner realized they didn’t have the capacity for 11 dogs. Charlotte will stay at the shelter until all her babies are fully vaccinated and ready to move into forever homes, then she will return to her owner, spayed.

Mama Charlotte (corner) tends to her 10 babies in the quarantine room of the Pincher Creek animal shelter.

With the shelter overfull with animals, a recent policy has been to ensure mothers of surrendered litters are spayed to help manage the unhoused pet population in the area.

“Our numbers are not declining, they’re increasing,” says Kelly Lepine, president of Pincher Creek Humane Society. “We’re going to double, if not triple, what we did last year for cats and dogs.”

Kelly explains that as the shelter can’t afford to employ more than two people a day, the needed care and cleaning of the animals has been overwhelming.

“We need more money or we need more people,” she says.

The shelter is constantly looking for volunteers to help with everything from walking dogs to just spending time with the animals. Volunteers are especially needed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the daytime.

From left, Kenedy Cole and Crissy Riegert, staff at PCHS, during a day of constant cleaning and care, alongside president Kelly Lepine.

Contributing to the overpopulation of pets in the shelter is the recent increase in owners surrendering their animals, which Kelly attributes in large part to the rising cost of living.

“People can’t afford to feed the animal or care for it properly,” she says.

The shelter is working to help make pet care more affordable, with a program to reduce the cost of spaying or neutering a pet, and a low-cost food program.

The shelter also offers a pet safe-keeping kennel designed for those fleeing domestic situations who need a temporary safe place for their animal. The kennel can house pets while owners go for treatments.

“We’re trying to find ways to support the community and provide different programming,” Kelly says. “We want people to come talk to us before they have to get to that point of surrender, or you know, or abandonment.”

PCHS’s priority is to support, especially in empowering people to keep their pets out of the shelter.

But housing animals, offsetting costs for owners and providing veterinary care isn’t free. In addition to some money that comes jointly from the Town of Pincher Creek and the MD of Pincher Creek, PCHS relies mostly on fundraisers and general donations.

Sassy feral cat Sapphire and her kittens are some of the 43 cats currently staying at the shelter, a population nearly double the ideal limit of 24.

The society brings in some revenue from the self-serve dog wash station — $12 per bath including shampoo, conditioner and lice treatment — which is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

As a registered charity, PCHS issues tax receipts for donations of at least $20, which can be made to treasurerpchs@gmail.com or through CanadaHelps.org.

The shelter always needs more animal food and cleaning supplies such as gloves and paper towels. People can also donate by putting money on the PCHS vet bills at local clinics, which typically total $10,000 a month.

With the recent purchase of a van to transport animals to clinics, the shelter is searching for a corporate sponsor to help with insurance and have their name on it, as well as gas card donations to help pets get the care they need.

“This should be a community facility,” Kelly says. “We want people helping and, you know, being a part of it.”

While many animals in the shelter are surrendered or abandoned, some are simply lost. When pets are not given a microchip, tattoo or accurate contact information on a collar, it becomes hard to track down the owner and to prove ownership.

Mickey was separated from his owner and turned up at the shelter. Luckily, he was chipped so the shelter was able to locate his owner and they will be reunited soon.

To prevent your pet from ending up in the shelter system, it is important to ensure it is microchipped, has accurate contact information, and is fixed. You can also utilize the shelter’s services to ensure your ability to care for the animal.

“We don’t want another animal in our shelter,” says Kelly, emphasizing the goals of the shelter to support pet owners, ideally working to a point where shelters are not necessary. 

Adoption fees, which include charges for fixing and vaccinating the animal before adoption, are kept as low as possible, and the shelter aims for a turnaround time of one or two days to process adoption paperwork and send pets to their new families.

“We don’t want to put more barriers in front of the animals getting a home,” Kelly says.

The adoption fees cover about one-third of the costs incurred for housing and providing veterinary care for the animal.

Information about adoption, volunteering, donations and more can be found on Pincher Creek Humane Society’s website at bit.ly/3WurSjC.

By Mia Parker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 09, 2024 at 11:36

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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