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It has been their dream for years

By Staff | Jan 5, 2020

I have been the editor of the Faribault County Register for over 12 years now.

And, in those 12 years, we have done quite a few stories about the need for a new animal shelter in the city of Blue Earth. I am also pretty sure it was probably a hot topic for several years before I ever took over the editor’s job.

The saga has continued for all those years, in various ways and with many, sometimes heated, discussions especially at City Council meetings.

Now it looks like a new facility is becoming a very strong possibility to get accomplished this year.

There are several reasons for the multitudes of delays.

The current facility started off as basically a dog pound for the city of Blue Earth. A police officer picked up a stray dog, took it to the pound, locked it up, and then tried to find the owner.

If the owner was found within 10 days or so, it was good news. If no owner showed up, well, the dog was usually put down. But that changed a few years ago, when the city made a deal with the Faribault County Humane Society to run the pound, now renamed as an animal shelter.

Suddenly, there was not a real clear-cut operations manual on how the shelter should be run.

The city basically wanted to still have it as an impound for strays, while the humane society wanted it as a shelter for animals, while they tried to find first foster homes, then permanent adoption of the dogs and a lot of cats, as well.

Add in the fact that suddenly the Blue Earth pound was taking in animals from around the county, and well, you can well imagine the problems that was causing.

If you have never been to the former Blue Earth only, now county-wide, animal shelter, let me describe it to you.

The building resembles a metal shed someone might have in their backyard. It is mighty small. But, back in the old days, it was expected to just house a dog or two at a time, for short periods of time.

Now, the members of the humane society have tried their best to fix it up and use the available space as best they can.

They have added dog kennels and have fenced in areas for the dogs to get outside without being on a leash. They have added windows, fans, heaters, shelves and even an on-site small washer and dryer to take care of the bedding.

They have built a gate inside the building which can be shut so dogs can’t go after the cats. They have built shelves for supplies and keep other supplies from the tops of the kennels and cages to the ceiling. They use every available inch of space inside and store some items outside as well.

They now have room for five dogs and a bunch of cats, and they are generally always full. They might get a dog or two either out to a foster home or be adopted, but there can suddenly be two or three more show up.

The society members are kept plenty busy, with someone going out to the shelter three times each day, including weekends and holidays.

They are a dedicated crew, to say the very least. Debby Johnson says they are blessed with all the volunteer help, and the many individuals and businesses that lend monetary support, or give things like dog and cat food.

They also have been able to raise $22,000 in donations to help with the cost of a new building. Some of that came from the fundraisers they do, and some just from generous supporters and lovers of animals.

You may wonder why the humane society is raising funds for a new building.

Well, the answer is because the humane society wants to have a wonderful animal shelter, and not just a place to impound strays so they have agreed to share in the cost of a new facility.

It would be nice, Debby Johnson says, to have a place for people to come and identify their lost pet, or come to look for a dog or cat to adopt, and not be disgusted by the condition of the tiny shelter. It is hard to even talk to a visitor if all five dogs start barking at the same time.

It is looking a lot like this dream of a new animal shelter for the county has pretty good odds of coming true in 2020. The Joint Powers Board and the Faribault County Humane Society are working together on plans and specs for a new facility. If they can get an agreement on a plan and on a cost, it could get under construction as early as this spring. I hope it happens.

By the way, the humane society is always looking for more volunteers, donations of supplies, people willing to foster an animal in their home for a while, or better yet, someone who wants to adopt a pet. Send them an email at fchspaws@gmail.com, or check them out on Facebook, for more information.