By Ken De Laat
It was an email from Troy and Patti Kalbach that spurred a recent trip to the Animal Shelter.
While we’ve long heard folks talking about the capable crew at the NCAS we had not yet made a visit and when discussing my planned excursion with my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil (a woman known to possess an abundance of patience) she listened with her usual forbearance and after I was done simply said
“Just please, don’t surprise me and come home with a dog.”
I contacted Chief Animal Control Officer Kevin Carr and arranged for the tour. He met me at the White Cloud facility with staff member Danielle Maike and volunteer Georgia Kohlbeck, one of the 15-20 folks who volunteer their time to help care for the animals that spend their time awaiting adoption at the Shelter.
The Animal Control Team gets its share of calls about animals who seem to be in distress, might be bit more than a little problematic or are running the streets and neighborhoods seemingly without a home base among other tasks. Officer Carr had recently been on one of their more unusual calls when they helped herd a group of wandering cattle back to their home.
Officer Carr spoke of how the Shelter has transformed their image from the days of being known as simply “The Pound” and the officers being identified as ‘dogcatchers.”
These days much of their work involves intervention and education, helping pet owners with knowing the responsibilities that come with having a four legged friend around and resolving issues they may be having.
And of course taking in the dogs and cats (and sometimes birds and other creatures) that arrive either because of abandonment, abuse or other factors that have rendered them homeless.
“We’re not a no-kill shelter but we are a low-kill one,” said Carr. “ Some animals are not able to be rehabilitated or arrive too sick to be healed.”
Danielle is the Adoption Coordinator and runs the day to day operations at the shelter. A self described animal person her whole life, she possesses a passion for the work and a love for the critters she is charged with caring for.
And in this shelter the residents are very well cared for.
Danielle and Georgia introduced me to each of the current guests at the facility. What was most impressive was their knowledge of the personalities and quirks of each animal all of whom had names that seem to befit said personalities.
When it came to the cats, some were shy, some were curious and some seemed bent on showing off their cuteness at every opportunity.
The dogs? Well, they’re dogs so they were enthusiastic in their greetings as dogs tend to be and obviously well acquainted and well connected to Danielle and Georgia.
The shelter is well maintained, receives donations of food, litter and even pet toys, from local businesses and individuals, donations that are vital to operations.
They use a lot of social media to get the word out about the adoption candidates and Georgia’s profiles of them in the fb page ‘Friends of the NC Animal Shelter” draws the interest of potential adopters with her well crafted descriptions of each furry friend.
Danielle heaped praise on the volunteers who give their time freely and range from those who help with various chores around the facility to one person who works nearby and spends her lunch hours walking the shelter dogs.
The NC Animal Shelter is impressive on many levels, not the least of which are the staff and volunteers. It is a sanctuary for the forgotten, abused and abandoned animals that populate our county and the efforts undertaken to find permanent homes for them is nothing short of admirable as is the daily work being done by this impressive group of animal aficionados.
Here is the letter that sparked our excursion.
I am writing to you in regard to the Newaygo County Animal Shelter, specifically to give kudos to Danielle. We adopted our two pups, Oliver and Maggie in 2017 and 2019 respectively. They have added a lifetime of memories in the few years we've had them. Danielle's compassion and professionalism made the adoption process a pleasurable experience. She truly seems to care about every animal in the shelter and provides them with the attention and love all of them deserve.
Troy and Patti Kalbach
Like I said, impressive.
If you’re looking for a furry friend and want to find one who’s health needs have been taken care of (as well as their ability to reproduce) this is a stop you must make. Check out their facebook page as well as the one for the Friends of the Shelter and you can browse through some of their latest candidates who are eligible to join your household.
And no, for the record I didn’t come home with a dog.
For a brief moment when caught up in the relative cuteness of a fetching young feline there was the thought that Lil had failed to mention anything about a cat but…
Even the most patient among us need not have that patience tested too often.
“Animals are a window to your soul and a doorway to your spiritual destiny. If you let them into your life and allow them to teach you, you will be better for it.”-Kim Shotola
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