Prairie’s Edge Humane Society will open their new facility in Northfield next week, and will focus on educating and assisting pet owners, rather than housing a large numb er of homeless animals.

Last year, Prairie’s Edge took in nearly 650 cats and dogs throughout the year. For the past month they have been in the process of relocating from Faribault to Northfield. With the new location, they’ve changed their focus.

Kathy Jasnoch, director of Prairie’s Edge, said they will still hold homeless cats at their new location, but they are looking to put dogs into foster homes.

“We are going to be match-makers, we want to find the right foster homes for the right dogs,” she said.

Although they are still aiming to prevent animal homelessness, they will be tackling the issue from a different angle. When animals are held at the humane society it gives them a chance to socialize with other animals and gives them a place to stay, however it can be stressful for them.

Rather than allowing pet owners to walk into Prairie’s Edge and drop off an unwanted animal, they want to work with the pet owners to find a better solution, Jasnoch said.

“Owning an animal is a responsibility and there are a lot of solutions to keep the animal in your home,” she said. “We want to help people find the best solution for the both of them.”

Whether it’s an issue with affording pet food or vet care, or with the animal’s behavior, or just finding the pet a different home, Jasnoch said they will help assist the pet owner before they take the animal into their facility. She said they can refer the dog to a trainer, give a pet owner some of the donated pet food, or refer the pet owner to an income-based vet toward the Twin Cities.

“Eventually some dogs will come to us, but you have to go through the process and work within the system,” Jasnoch said. If no solution is found for the pet owners to keep the animal, Jasnoch said they will do intakes by appointment only.

Prairie’s Edge is now encouraging families to sign up to be a foster home for these animals, where they can be temporarily housed.

“We want good adoptions, and we want successful adoptions,” Jasnoch said. “But we are going to try and do some of this outside of our facility.”

Some early ideas for adoption events are at places like Chuck and Don’s or with the Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts or even in a classroom. The foster parents will be able to bring the animals to these events for the public to see.

“People have this impression that if they find a stray (animal) they can just bring it to us,” she said, but that is not the case. Prairie’s Edge doesn’t take strays within the city limits of Northfield. The police must be contacted in those situations.

Jess Renderos, a veterinarian technician at Countryside, said if a stray dog is seen in the neighborhood, police will respond, pick up the animal and bring it to Countryside, which serves as Northfield’s animal impound.

S.A.F.E. Sanctuary in Faribault, and Last Hope in Farmington, are the two facilities that will take in unwanted pets in the area. However Waseca County and Steele County Humane Society and Animal Humane in the Twin Cities will as well, Jasnoch said.

“There are more options than people realize,” Jasnoch said. “We want to help them find a solution.”

Brad Phenow covers Rice County government, townships and arts & entertainment. Reach him in Faribault at 333-3135 and in Northfield at 645-1122.