Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 54 – Forest County Humane Society

Forest County Humane Society has been in existence for 25 years. Their mission continues to be the “Shelter from the Storm” a safe haven for companion animals, providing food, medical care, and human tenderness. To continue to enrich the lives of animals, families, and communities through adoption services, education, and by always taking a firm stand against animal cruelty. They try to give every dog training in basic obedience so that when they are placed in a home they will have basic manners that will make it easier on the dog and adopters. They work hard to give every dog a play partner, so they are more adaptable to multi-dog families and it provides more time and plays while they are staying with them. They reunite lost pets with their families or adopt out over 200 dogs and 150 cats per year. They are an open enrollment no-kill shelter and every animal is loved and cared for by all of them.

Website: to the ARPA Animal Shelter of the Week Podcast, where we introduce you to incredible organizations around the country that are focused on helping animals. We’re proud to be sponsored by Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal shelter.

The Forest County Humane Society has been in existence for 25 years. Their mission continues to be the shelter from the storm, a safe haven for companion animals by providing food, medical care, and human tenderness. They continue to enrich the lives of animals, families and communities through adoption services, education programs, and by always taking a firm stand against animal cruelty.

Hi there, Angie. Thank you for joining me on the show today. Hi, Kimberly. I’m glad you’re having me. Yeah, we’re so excited to get to know you and get to know what your role is at your organization and what you guys got going on over there. So let’s go ahead and jump right in it. Can you tell me what organization you’re with and your role over there? Absolutely. I’m with the Forest County Humane Society and I am the Animal Shelter Director, I’ve been Animal Shelter Director now for a year, I’ve got a little more than my feet wet, and I’m feeling pretty good about where we’re at now and how it’s going.

So where exactly are you guys located? We are located in Crandon, Wisconsin. That’s in Northeastern Wisconsin. Oh, you’re over there playing in the snow, aren’t you? Oh, yes, we have so much snow. Yeah, I’m ready for it to go away. Oh, no, I think that’s standard. Everybody who lives where it snows wants it to go away. And then you have people like me who don’t get snow. And I’m like, “I want to go play in it.”

So, Angie, please kind of share with me a little bit about your organization as a whole. And how long have you guys been around? Absolutely. So our organization was started in May of 1998. That’s when we became incorporated. I don’t know a whole lot about the beginning, except for that it was founded by a group of animal loving people that saw a need in our community and they did a whole lot of fundraising to get this building together and to get these animals in a safe place where they could be rehabilitated and re-homed or reunited with their families, if they were strays and their families were looking for them. Yeah, and that’s an awesome thing. And usually a group of people. I mean, you would have to do a ton of fundraising to get, you know, a building. Because you guys are nonprofit, right? Yes, we are. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Okay, perfect.

Like you said, you guys have a facility where you guys come, bring the animals in? Yes, we have a main building that have 14 kennels to house dogs. And we have an isolation room for if we have any cases where we need to, isolate an animal. Or sometimes if we have ah, mom, that’s giving birth to puppies, we’ll put her in there. So she’s not, you know, around all the other dogs. And then we have two cat rooms. One is the open room and one has cages or cat condos as we’d like to call them. They’re very nice. Well, that’s pretty much our main building. And then we were very blessed a few years ago. We have a very generous donor come through for us. And we had a little barn that we used to raise money, but since then we have two other locations that we do resale shop to help raise money for our shelter.

So anyway, we turned the whole barn into a training center and that has five more kennels in it and a big area for dog training and meet and greets. And we do like our board meetings in there. We also have an escape room in there to raise money. We use it for dog training classes. And so we’re really excited about that. Firstly, to have a training room or, you know, a location that specifically for training the dogs that come into your care. I looked at your website and I noticed that that was a big thing for you guys. You guys like to make sure that the dogs are—at least have their basic training.

So, do you guys have a trainer that comes in? Or do you just have some volunteers that are experienced in the training field? Or how does that work? Well actually, my husband, who is also the President of the shelter. He is very much into dog training and he isn’t certified, but he has read a million books, and he is actually very, very good at what he does. And he does a lot of the dog training. I used to do the dog training with him, but then we lost our manager and I had to become manager. Okay. Now, I’m doing less dog training and a lot of book work, but I’d rather do the dog training. I think it’s great that you could have stepped up and decided to take on the role as the Shelter Director, and I’m sure you get to train from time to time. Yeah, I do from time to time. Well, good. .

And I think it’s great that you guys actually are able to do your board meetings in there and also, I mean to have an escape room, I mean, that’s pretty cool. That’s definitely unique and different. I haven’t heard of that. So that seems like a lot of fun. It is, it’s a lot of fun. I don’t know if you’ve ever done one or not, but they are a lot of fun and this particular escape room, you know, usually an escape room has a theme, so ours is obviously an animal shelter theme, and my daughter actually developed it to in school for game art design. So she’s a gamer, so she developed all the games. You know that you have to get within the 60 minutes to be able to beat the room. So we’ve had about 10. We just opened it like this fall, and we’ve had about 10 groups go through and only three of them have been able to beat the room. So it’s, it’s tough. It’s quite challenging. Oh, wow, that’s so cool. And I mean, you said, your husband does the dog training and your daughter has kind of designed the escape room. So it seems like you guys are very family-oriented organization over there. Yes we do, absolutely. That is awesome.

So you’ve kind of shared with me a little bit about your organization where you guys are at. What is the community like over there in your area? It’s kind of a more depressed areas like economic and in a very rural, so we end up getting a lot of stray dogs and a lot of dogs that are not spayed or neutered. It’s very expensive to have that done, you know, and so that’s kind of like the area that we haven’t kind of the challenges that we have is that a lot of dogs multiply. Yes. You know, because there’s a kind of loose and not spayed and neutered. Yeah. We always have a lot of dogs. We’re usually pretty full most of the time, but we also have a really good turnover rate where our dogs do get adopted out quite quickly and don’t have to sit here very long.

Now, how many animals do you guys usually keep? That’s kind of like your max. It’s a 10. Sometimes we’ve been like over max. Either if we have dogs that come in together, we’ll put them in one kennel together, and then, that helps us have more capacity. And then sometimes we’ll get puppies so we might have six puppies with that big dog, but they’re all in one kennel. Cause wee, in the training center, we have really large kennels so that we would have a lot of variety as to what we’d be able to hold and care for, so that we wouldn’t have to put—cause we do get a bonded pair in, they can be together where they’ll be more comfortable and more at home because they have each other than if we had to separate them because the kennels were too small. Okay, I mean, that definitely makes sense. Absolutely. You know, if you have comes in and is friendly with other dogs, they don’t wanna be in the kennel by themselves. But I think it’s awesome that you guys keep two that are used to each other, and that’s really cool. I like that and I feel like that helps them deal with the shelter environment as well. Exactly, it really does.

Would you say that majority of the animals that come into your care are the stray animals that are out running around the street? I would say we get 1/3 surrendered, 1/3 stray, and 1/3 reunited is what I would say. Okay. And we did 205 dogs last year. I mean you said surrender, so you guys do accept owner surrenders. Oh, absolutely. So you guys just take those animals and or is there an application that people have to fill out? No, we will take them and we’re on open shelter, which means we take everything in anything, dog or cat, regardless of what their situation is, even if they are badly in need of medical care. If they’re in bad shape, we take them. It is our mission to help every animal that we can, regardless of if people can afford to surrender. We do ask for $50 surrender fee, but if they cannot, we take the animal anyway because our main concern is the animal. And we want to make sure that they get the medical care they need and that they get re-homed into their forever home. Absolutely. You got to do what’s best for the animal, and sometimes we may not always understand situations, but you guys say you got it covered, which is awesome. Yeah.

So when you guys take in the animals before they could adopt it out, do you guys make sure that their vaccinations are up to date? Or are they spayed and neutered before they leave the shelter? Kind of share with us a little bit about that. Yep. Okay, so every animal that comes in the first thing that we do is we administer a distemper vaccine because the SPCA recommends that we do that and then that protects all the other animals specially puppies, because distemper can be, well it is fatal in puppies. So if you know, we had a dog that came in and if we had puppies that weren’t old enough to get vaccinated, those puppies would be in danger of catching distemper. So everything gets vaccinated for distemper on intake and they are also dewormed. And then as soon as we possibly can we get them into the vet, have them faded, neutered, and they get a 4DX, which checks for heartworm and lyme disease.

And Lyme disease is terrible in this area, like every dog, every single dog have Lyme disease that comes in here. So then we treat them for Lyme disease. We don’t get much heartworm, well we’ve had a few heartworm cases, but not very many. Like maybe one a year. That’s terrible disease. Still, yeah, and then we get them on PetFinder and adopt a pet, and our Facebook page, and our website and just try to get them into their forever home. Okay, and I mean, I always say this on my podcast, but I love talking to organizations within different states because you guys face different struggles and different challenges. So for me, in my area, heartworm is huge, like it’s just off the charts. So to hear in your area that it’s not very common, but lyme disease is.

It’s interesting to me because it goes to show you that every area’s totally different. Absolutely. And lyme disease, we’ve had dogs that they’ve come in so bad. Like we’d have to carry them out to go potty like they can’t walk. They’re so crippled up, but then, after like 30 days of vaccines, they’re back to normal. But it can still flare from time to time. And some of them if they come in too bad, to where the arthritis has really, you know, they’re older, they’ve had it a long time. You know, that can be really bad. It’s not like reversible. So I find that very interesting. And I think it’s great that you guys offer those vets services to kind of check all the animals that have come in making sure that none of the other animals get anything or exposed to it. So that’s good. And that shows that you guys are up on your game with stuff like that. That’s awesome.

So what kind of programs does your organization offer? I know that you said that you guys have those two re-sale shops, which I’m intrigued to learn more about. You’ve got the escape rooms. What other programs do you offer? Well, we also do the dog training classes, so my husband offers community dog training classes, and we do that in the training center. In fact, right now he’s got four classes back to back that he’s doing tonight, just the individual classes. So that’s really good to have in this area, because I think people don’t know what they don’t know. And I think people could help their animals so much more if they understood how they think, how they learn. You know, a dog can be really fun. It doesn’t have to just, like, sit in the yard on a chain.

You can teach it to do so many things and to be such an active part of your family and it can have manners. You know, it doesn’t have to be like jumping on the counter, and jumping on people. It can be trained to not do those things. It’s just you have to train the human. Yes. You know, so it’s all about training the human. And then the dog learns really fast once the human knows what they’re doing. So which is the hard part, sometimes. It’s hard to train a human new tricks. Right. Right. Yeah. But I think that that’s absolutely right. Every animal could be trained and coming from me. I recently learned that you can clicker train a cat, which is new to me. Like, my cat would look at me and like “woman, you are crazy.” Yeah.

But that’s great, so they can you kind of share with us those to re-sale shops that you guys have. How do you guys work those And how do they kind of tie into your organization? So we have two re-sale shops. One is called Happy Tails and the other is called Forever Yours, and one is being run out of my husband and I own a gas station convenience store. And it had a restaurant at one time. And so there’s not a restaurant there anymore. So now we turned that into the resale shop. Anytime the gas stations opens, people can be going in there and it’s actually worked well, because we don’t have to have volunteers. The people who work at the gas station just kind of we’ll check you out for your purchases.

And we have volunteers who come in and they go through this stuff and put it all out and display it really nice. And we’re so thankful for them because the resale shop are huge for us. They’re huge. They probably bring us in, like, half the money that we need to survive here. And then the other one we just purchased an old gas station downtown, it was right downtown, great location. And we have volunteers that work that one, and it’s been really awesome. To have that opportunity to be able to do that. Yes. It helps the people of the community, and it helps you guys out, you know, ultimately, it’s helping the animals that you guys are caring for. So kudos to you guys. Yeah.

So, Andy, you mentioned that you guys have some volunteers. How many volunteers would you say that you guys have? I would say, you know, with the resale shop there, probably 10 volunteers between the two and then here at the animal shelter. We probably have about 8 to 10 volunteers that come here. We could use a lot more. We could always use more volunteers because I think what is really something that I would like to see more of here, is just people coming in and giving our animals human tenderness. You know, they need that. I hate seeing them just in their kennels and then cycled out and not really getting much human tenderness, cause there is not enough of us to go around.

And also in our training center, which we’ve tried to get the word out, and it just doesn’t seem to be getting out there. I don’t know why. So we have a TV and a couch where people can come in, you know, they can sit on the couch, they can watch TV, they can bring in a dog, and they can just pet the dog, play with the dog, play ball with the dog. You know, it’s really a nice area where they can go if you love dogs or cats and your home. And maybe you can’t have a dog or cat anymore because maybe you live in a place where you can’t have them. You could come here and, you know, drink coffee and watch the news or watch TV and just pet an animal. And we’re not getting a whole lot of people doing that yet. And so I’d really like to see more people doing that for us because it would just help the animals so much. Just to have someone be scratching their ears and spending time with them.

I’m definitely with you. They’re about getting the word out. So people kind of know that that’s there, because I think it’s great. And to be able to give that animal the enrichment, they just love just sitting there and petting them. So if any of our listeners are in that area, go check them out. Go hang out with an animal for a few hours and, you know, enjoy that extra enrichment cause a lot of people can’t foster or they don’t have the time to volunteers. That’s awesome, that you guys offer something like that. Yeah, you know, a lot of times I’ll have people you know, especially older people say, “oh, I can’t walk a dog anymore. I can’t walk that far,” or it’s winter here almost all the time, they can just sit on the couch. You can sit on a couch, you know. Yeah you can watch TV all day. Yeah, absolutely. That’s awesome.

So do you guys offer a foster program at all? Or is it just strictly the facility that you guys have the volunteers come to? We don’t do fostering. We do in extreme cases. Board members only, because of our insurance, it doesn’t cover fosters. So usually like I end up fostering most of the little baby kittens that need to be bottle fed. Or if we do have a dog or puppies that come in, you know that are too young and they need to be, bottle fed or cared for more than what my staff can do while they’re here. Then we have someone take them home, but we don’t have like, outside of the organization foster care. But that’s still good that you guys, even as the board members are able to do that because, like I said, there are certain cases that need that extra TLC, so that’s awesome you guys have that option to do so if needed. Yeah.

So what would you say is your organization’s biggest challenge? I would say our biggest challenge is money. You know, I think that every organization. Yes. Because vet bills are crazy we had, like, over I believe it was over $65,000 in vet bills last year alone and that will probably only continue to rise. And like I said, we will get an animal whatever it needs. Our policy is to treat anything that can be treated. So we’ve had in the past we try to do extra fundraisers for those because it can get very costly. We just had a little German shepherd puppy that we raised money for, that had a heart murmur, and we were able to raise all the money to get her heart murmur fixed. And before that, we had dog Blitzen. And actually, I’d like to tell you she’s one of our memorable stories.

So Blitzen, this is Christmas time. And I got a call of the day after Christmas that there were these two stray dogs that were wandering around by this house and nobody knew they’d never seen these dogs before. Kind of in a more remote area. So I went out there, I was able to get one right away. So one was like a Tan dog, and one was a black dog and we named the tan dog Donner. And then the black dog was Blitzen. Yeah. You know, every day and this is like 25 minutes away from where we live, So we would have to go out there and we’d like bring chicken and food and stuff to try to get this dog to start coming around and some people would see it, and then days would go by and no one would see it. And we’re like, “oh, my gosh, we can’t get this dog.” We’ve set up a live traps and we’re going out there like every night and calling for it and looking for tracks.

And finally of 30 days, I got a call from these hunters that said, I think we found your dog. And we’re looking for this dog, and it was under this tree, and these hunters had found it. And so they’re like, “but it’s growing at us.” So we’re gonna have you come to me. And so we go out there and we brought Donner with us, and so we go there and she saw Donner, and she just came right out to Donner. And she was skin and bones. Oh, my God. 30 days, no food and out in the cold. It was so cold. Oh, my gosh. Like I don’t know if they wouldn’t have found her, I don’t think she would have survived much longer. So we got her. We fattened her up. She had a torn ACL. So we raised money to get her, her surgery, and she is now in her forever home, living happily ever after.

Oh my goodness. I love stories. Yeah. I know. And I think it’s so awesome that you guys brought Donner with you guys because you know that if they were running around together that they would connect like that is so great. Right. And it kind of, I think just kind of shows you what your community is like. The fact that you guys were able to get the word out there. And then it just so happened that you had a couple people out hunting and they were like, “hey, we know that dog!” Just kind of shows you that the people within your community are willing to work together to kind of help for the same causes. So that’s awesome. Can I tell you another story? Yes, of course. I love stories.

Okay, so this is Mowgli’s story. So Mowgli came to us two years ago. I believe he was a stray, but, you know, two years in a shelter, that’s a long time. And one of the reasons he’s been here so long is he is a runner. If he is ever off leash, he will not come back. He will chase a car until he’ll get hit. Yeah, I mean, so I had to be very careful who I adopted him, too, because he needed a fenced in yard because it would be his life. And so anyways, he is going home on Friday after two years being here. And so my husband, you know, we try to give the animals just as much enrichment and everything as we can. And since Mowgli is a runner they decided he was gonna skijoring him.

And so he trained him in skijoring, and he has been taking him to races for the last two years, his very first race, he won first place in a very first race. And he’s been doing canicross and skojoring, and he has never got less than third place in any of his races. And he was actually at a race. My husband was at a race with Mowgli and a bunch of kids and a teacher from the school that’s in our area is kind of a high school in it teaches conservation, and kids go to it for one semester. So they were all there helping out at this race, and so they saw Mowgli, and they always put, like, ‘adopt me’ t-shirt on to say “hey I’m available for adoption” because usually there’s not much there available for adoption. There’s people dogs.

And so the kids and the teacher fell in love with Mowgli. And so the teacher’s adopting Mowgli and Mowgli will get to live at the conserve school with the teacher and kids will be able to skijoring him. How awesome and amazing is that! I know, that is so cool. It’s like the best life ever. Just that whole story overall from the fact that he’s been there two years. But you and your husband recognized what he liked to do it. I mean, he likes to run and he likes to bolt. So you guys literally saw that and turn that into something impactful and meaningful and something that could help enrich what he likes to do. So I absolutely love that. Thank you so much for sharing that we wish nothing but the best for Mowgli.

And I’m so happy to hear that he’s finally gonna find a forever home after being on the shoulder for two years. That’s a long time. We are too, like we are all gonna be crying tears of joy. And it’s gonna be a happy day and also gonna be kind of a bad day because we’ve all gotten so attached to him. He’s been here so long. But we’re just so happy to have him being a forever home. And plus he has a sister dog that he’s gonna be with, too. So that’s awesome, too. Oh, good. Well, I’m so happy to hear that. And I hope that you will post about updates on your Facebook and everything so we can no stay tuned and stay up to date on what’s going on with him. Absolutely. We will.

So I have one more story. Yeah go ahead. Okay, so this is the story of Larry. So I don’t know if you heard about Larry or seen any of that on our website last year. It would have been pretty much last year. Around this time. I had someone call the shelter and said, “hey, there’s these five puppies.” Well, they were running around on the highway, one of the highways we have. And so my husband went out to get him, Couldn’t find them. And it’s like, Okay. And so then we had someone called, “hey, there’s these puppies in my yard,” I’m like, “okay, can you try to hold them?” They’re probably the puppies that we got called on that were on the highway. And so we got the, I think there was five of them. I can’t remember now, but five little black and tan puppies. And so they came in and we you know, whenever puppy or, whenever there’s a litter, we try to name them in a theme because it just helps us remember who belongs to who. So we named them Disney princesses.

And so they’re like, Jasmine and Mulan. And I can’t remember my Disney princesses anyway, so a year ago, so anyways, we got them in. And then the next day, someone called the shelter. They’re like, “hey, I found this little puppy on the side of road. Can I bring it in?” And we’re like, “oh, my gosh, that must be one of these puppies,” you know, and it must have just got, you know, separated from the rest. And it was in the ditch. So she ended up. She couldn’t bring us to the shelter right away because she is on her way to work. So she took it to work with her, and he decided he was going to tweet. And so she was tweeting the day when she named him Larry. And so if you were feeding him some cheese out of her sandwich at work and just he had lots of pictures, and so then decided she wanted to keep him which was fine. But then she said, “hey, I just want to let you know that I added a donate button to my feed so you might get a couple donations. I just want to let you know that,” and I’m like, “okay, well, thanks!”

And so then I was getting like, e mails, and people are like, “hey, I’m trying to donate and I can’t donate. And I’m like, “oh, that must be a couple donors.” You know, I’m thinking, you know, just a couple donors here and there. And so then I called our person who handled their website and another donation paid. Then I said, “hey, the buttons, not working. People are telling me the button is not working” and she was like, “okay, I’ll check it out.” And she called me back. She’s like, “oh, my God, Andy is because we’re being overwhelmed. We had, like, $10,000 in donations within, like, the 1st 3 hours.” Oh, my goodness. I know it, like went viral. So we ended up getting like $18,000 from that which was awesome, like we so needed that. So that was really cool.

That was huge because, that was kind of when I first started here. And so that was such a huge blessing for me to, like, have that money come in. Right when I was kind of taking over as manager and feeling like, ‘Oh, good. A little relief,’ you know, like that takes a lot of bake sales $18,000. You know, that’s a lot of load off of me. To try and figure out more fundraisers of what we need to do to keep the place going. Those are my three stories that I thought were pretty memorable and pretty amazing in the year that I’ve been here.

They definitely are in the fact that you have so many great occurrences just in the year that you’ve been the director, I think that you are awesome, but I think what kind of strikes me most from your stories is just how awesome people of your community are. That’s truly amazing. You get so many people that just see an animal and they’re walking along the side of the road and then just like “okay, you know, the next person will call it in.” Yeah. You know, that’s so common. So the fact that you actually have people in your community that are aware of what you guys are doing. You know, our Facebook family, like they are so amazing. Like if I ever have an animal that I’m like, “okay, guys like this animal needs this desperately,” You know, we need the need to get some kind of surgery or you know something. And they are always there, and we always raise the money for them, and I’m so thankful for them. Yeah.

So, Angie, one of the things that I kind of had before all those great stories was Do you guys work? And are you partnered with a local vet? Or is that something that you guys have on site? No, we don’t have a vet on site. In fact, we have to drive 45 minutes one way only to get to a vet. Oh my goodness. Yeah, and so we’re doing a lot of driving to get our animals to the vet. We try to use fixes in as much as we can. That is more of a mobile unit, you know. And they come around to different shelters. Then stuff, but in different communities, they try to offer lower costs, spay and neuters, but they do spay and neuters, and so I tried to use them as much as I can. But they only come every other month, and I still have to take many, many on most to the vet. That’s tough. I can’t imagine it. But the fact that you guys still do that and make sure that your animals are cared for and taken care of that’s quite a strike there. It’d be great if we have a vet in town or like right next door. I’m sure, it would help a ton.

So do you have to go to the vet when you guys screen the animals that just come into the shelter? Is that something that you guys can do there? Like the 4DX. Okay, well, see, when they first come in, I give him the shot. I’m able to give them a distemper shot, and then I I’m able to give them dewormer and then within a week, usually we can get them in to get everything else done.

So I’m kind of curious how you kind of got started in the animal welfare industry. Did you do any type of volunteering or any pretty much work within this field before you took on the director’s position. Okay, this is a fun story. So we had a dog that was my husband’s dog for 13 years, and they were, like, tight a bit, the dog went with him everywhere, went to work with him, and then that 13 years old, you know, she had to be put down. She was blind. She was loved, she wasn’t eating, so we put her down, and then my husband just went into such grief like I’m like, “oh, you’re gonna need grief counseling.” And so then he’s like, I’m gonna go volunteer at the shelter so that I can get my dog fixed. Yeah. I mean, because you could not live without a dog.

Well, at that time, when he was just volunteers, like I’m gonna go walk the dog and the shelter was in really bad shape, and it was about to go under. It was 30,000 in the hole, and everybody was jumping ship. And so he was asked to become president. And so he became the president. And now we are doing very well, you know, we’re not $30,000 in the hole. We are in the black, but yeah, so then he five years ago it took on the president’s position and I was just coming down and walking dogs. And then for the last five years that he’s been president. We’ve had, like, five different managers in five years and, you know, turn over like that is so hard on organization. It’s like you just kind of get past the learning curve and then they’re gone, and then you get another one in, you have a learning curve, and then they’re gone.

And so when the last manager left, I just said, “you know what? I’m just gonna do it. I’m just gonna do it cause I just hate to see the cycle keep going, and it’s hurting us to not have someone who’s stable and gonna stay,” you know. And so because, you know, you just start getting things started and then they leave and then that the ball gets dropped. So yeah, that’s how I—I’m actually a hairdresser, and I own my own salon in my home. I never, ever I found myself doing this. In fact, one of the managers, like six or so years prior was one of my customers and I said, I don’t know how you do that. I could never do that job And here I am doing this job and I’m like doing blood draws on cats But I’m like, “I’m a hairdresser, I don’t do this.”  But that’s what I do know, so. Isn’t that funny how you come to do what you do now. And it’s just totally opposite of what you thought you’d be doing. Absolutely.

But that’s awesome. I never thought I’d do this. But I’m sure everybody is super grateful. You know, you kind of stepped up and your like “we need somebody that’s gonna be stable and good to go,” and it seems like you’re doing awesome. And, you know, the work that you guys were doing, it’s truly inspiring. We need more people like you out there that are hairdressers, that are, like “I’m going to become a shelter director.” So that’s awesome. I think it’s great that you get to work with your husband. Also, you guys get to work closely. Yeah. You guys are passionate about what you do, so that’s truly great.

So, Andy, what is something that you wish that people knew about your organization? I wish they knew how amazing our animals are, and I wish they would come down and just spend time and just see you know how much love they can give you. You know, my staff is not well paid, you know. I hate to say we just can’t afford to pay staff well and so many of them. They give so much and they do it for the animals because they absolutely love each and every one of them. And they are our dog before they’re your dogs. Yeah and they are loved. And I think when people come down here, they really see how much love we have for them and how much care and how much the dogs love us, and they all think they’re our dogs and our cat. It’s a big undertake king. It’s a big job, 205 dogs and, like 150 cats a year, and we are a skeleton crew pretty much.

And so I wish more people would have it in their heart to come down and just spend time and they would get so much out of it. And I know I get a lot of people who say, “oh, I would go down there. But if I go down there, I’ll want to take them all home,” you know, and it’s like I hate when they say that and I actually said that at one time, too. But I’ll just say “no, you can’t take him home, but you get past that.” You get past the like “I want to bring them all home” and just like you know what I want to give them the best life I can give them while they’re here waiting for their forever home because they have a forever home out there waiting for them. They just need you how until they get that forever home. And I think that that’s a great way to kind of end our podcast today because I agree. I used to say the same thing. Also, it was like “I can’t go on volunteer because—.“ But I love how you were able to spin that and just help people understand that it’s a great thing to come down and just spend some time with the animals and you don’t get to know them.

So Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I was truly touched by our conversation and the stories you shared. And it definitely seems, um, you guys are very in tune with the people of your community, your family oriented. You guys were passionate about what you’re doing and the animals that you’re caring for. And I couldn’t be more thankful for you to join me today. I actually have a few more things. No, feel free.

So we have a couple of upcoming events, some fundraisers that we have going on. So on May 23rd we have our first annual critter jam, and it’s going to be held at our Happy Tails location. And we’re gonna have food. We’re gonna have raffles. We’re gonna have music. We’re gonna have a couple of furry friends for people to pet and hopefully maybe even get adopted. So that is may claim third from 11:00 to 6:00. So I hope people will come down and join us for that. It would be a lot of fun. Hope will be a beautiful day and no rain. But if it is raining, we’re gonna have tents and everything.

And then on May 16th we’re having our grand opening for our training center because it should be done by then we’re still doing a few finishing touches on it. And we’re also doing a Walk of Love where we’ve got memorial bricks that people can buy to add to our walk of love for our training center and they can see our training center. We’re also gonna have the scape room open that day so people can try out the escape room. We’re gonna have food. We’re gonna have ruffle. We’re gonna have kids games we’re gonna have all our animals are here so they can go pet the kitties and the dogs, take dogs for walks. It’s just gonna be a really fun family day. So that may 16th from 11:00 to 5:00.

And then on March 7 and October 17 or having a wine and painting class in our training center. So we’re trying to use our training center just in anyway, we can to kind of use it for fundraisers or just even, you know, we’re probably not gonna make a lot on the wine and painting thing, but it’s just a fun thing for community people to do and come to our shelter and to see what we do here and hopefully give us exposure and stuff like that.

So our website is You can go on there. We have pictures and we have videos. A lot of times we have videos of our animals because you can’t always tell their personalities from their pictures. So we like to put up videos whenever I have time to get those done. And then our email address is You can communicate with me through our email. Our phone number is 715-478-2098. You can call any time I’m happy to talk to anyone. I also have my personal cell phone number on our web page and on our e-mail. Because I will answer call whenever you get our animals into good homes. Because that’s what’s important.

Yes, it is. Well, thank you for sharing that with us. Angie, thank you for joining us today. Well, thank you for having us. I was really excited to do this and thanks. And I hope someday we can do it again. Yes, definitely.

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