Homeward bound

ESCANABA – The Delta Animal Shelter is on the hunt for a new location to house a more adoption-friendly facility.

Delta Animal Shelter Manager Sue Gartland said she hopes community awareness might help lead them in the right direction.

Their hope is someone might be willing to donate land or sell them a piece of available property at a reasonable price to house the facility.

According to Gartland, the shelter would need approximately two acres of land.

“We really are looking for either a piece of land or a vacant building that could be used for the animal shelter… We’re really hoping that there is the perfect piece of property out there that the shelter can be built on or move to,” she said.

The shelter’s board of directors has visited other shelters throughout the U.P. for ideas of what other communities have for their animals.

“We gathered quite a bit of information and then came back to our facility and can really see the shortcomings that we have here and where we really need to make significant improvements to house our animals,” said Gartland. “I think there’s always going to be a need for a safe, healthy, warm environment for all the stray animals and animals that need a new home to come to.”

The Delta Animal Shelter began operations independent from the previously county-run facility in August 2011, when members of the Delta Area Animal Society entered a lease agreement with the county to operate the building. Since that time, shelter officials noticed a mold problem in the facility’s attic but were at odds with the county on how to fix the problem. After meeting with the county for more than a year, the two parties could not come to a solution. The Delta Animal Shelter’s Board Of Directors ultimately opted to search for a new location, while in December, the Delta County Board of Commissioners approved a plan to remove the mold in the building and install an attic exhaust fan for proper ventilation.

Remodeling the current facility was one option shelter officials explored, but Gartland said there was a lot of work that needed to be done, including electrical and masonry work.

“This building obviously has its significant issues and the county did give us the option of a new lease agreement that we would be able to remodel this building, so we did explore that as a possibility,” she noted. “But the more expert opinions that we got on the space analysis … patching up this old building wouldn’t be cost effective and there’s not enough space to turn it from a pound-type atmosphere into an adoption center.”

In the past, Gartland expressed an interest in having a procedure room in the shelter, as well as rooms for socializing with animals.

“We feel like we’ve made a lot of improvements for the conditions of the animals,” she said. “We now vaccinate. We spay and neuter all the animals. We started micro-chipping all the animals. We test the animals for heartworm but right now for the dogs … we draw blood on the washing machine and things like that. We need significant improvements with the building to be able to adequately care for the animals.”

She said ideally it would be nice to secure land for a new shelter by the end of February, and the sooner they can relocate, the better.

Aside from their struggle to find a new location, Gartland said the shelter had a successful 2012. Approximately 1,225 animals came into the shelter during the year. Despite this large volume of animals, Gartland said they adopted out many animals.

“We were able to maintain a 100 percent adoption rate with our adoptable animals so we feel confident that this shelter is needed in this area and is very well supported by the community,” she said.

The Delta Animal Shelter is located at 6685 N.75 Drive in Escanaba, and can be reached by calling 789-0230. The shelter is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Delta-Animal-Shelter/126259687448119.