Local animal shelters are seeking warm hearts this cold winter. Rescue 55021, a local Faribault animal shelter, is looking for homes and families to take in a huge influx of rescued dogs and cats.
Two years removed from the spike in pet ownership, due to state-mandated lockdowns, many families are no longer able to maintain their commitments to a pet. Rescue 55021 has been hammered by this recent shift.
In a typical year, the shelter takes in around 125 animals. In 2022 alone, it has more than doubled that number.
“That normally takes three years,” said Theresa Void, the director and founder of Rescue 55021. Void is a retired nurse and said she works more hours now with her rescue than she ever did before.
Factors, such as economic hardship and a return to workplaces, played a part in owners abandoning their animals this year. With the price of food and supplies gone up, some families are unable to afford their pet. For many animals that Rescue 55021 takes in, the staff knows their owners. When contacted, owners simply won’t come around to pick up their pet.
“People are more mobile now,” Void said. “People are going to work and going to school. Some people are having to move because of the economy.”
In some cases, returning to work has created severe separation anxiety in pets that owners are unwilling or incapable of helping. Void said the problem is so bad they had to put a hold on intakes. But this isn’t a problem specific to Rescue 55021.
“It’s nonstop,” Void said. “And this is across the board with every rescue in the state. People are passed on from rescue to rescue.”
The need for foster homes has never been so dire. For Rescue 55021, adoption fees haven’t increased, but the cost of vetting, food, and grooming has. It costs Rescue 55021 $6,000 a month for vetting alone.
These services encompass the Hospice House, too, which cares for animals ineligible for adoption due to health concerns. They’re supported with vetting and grooming until they are put down.
Keri Pofahl, Rescue 55021’s treasurer, currently fosters two labs waiting for what she refers to as ‘forever homes.’ She’s been fostering for two years and started fostering after her dog died. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for a new dog, but she missed the furry presence they provide.
“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a lot of work, but it’s super rewarding,” Pfahl said. “Taking in abandoned dogs just fills our hearts.”
Throughout one year, her family took in 20 dogs to foster. She pleaded for more people to try fostering, pointing to her family’s impact in just a 12-month period.
Right now, Rescue 55021 is searching for a foster family with pitbull breed experience for a young pup waiting for a family.
After the new year, there will be an informational meeting at the shelter. People are encouraged to attend to learn more about fostering. Many questions and concerns are also answered on Rescue 55021’s Facebook page. To be eligible for fostering, an owner must own a home and bring their pet to vet appointments.
“If you have a big heart, come on out,” Void said. “We’re very grateful to the community for stepping up and helping.”
Void also recognized the major impact donations and fundraisers have played in keeping the shelter afloat from month to month, especially in the past year with economic hardships weighing them down.
The Faribault City Council acted on several personnel matters Tuesday, including a positive review and a raise for the city administrator, a promotion for the human resources manager, and a new police sergeant.
City Administrator Tim Murray received a raise and additional benefits after a positive performance review earlier this month.
The review concluded that Murray’s “performance exceeds or meets expectations in all areas,” Mayor Kevin Voracek said Tuesday during a mandatory summary of the performance review, which was closed to the public. The review also included goal-setting for the coming year.
“Thank you for a good review again,” Voracek said to Murray.
The council set Murray’s 2023 salary at $182,000, and approved a “merit” bonus of $2,500. Murray also was given 50 hours of “administrative leave,” which is essentially extra vacation time.
The council also held a first reading of changes to city code to reflect the creation of a human resources department and promotion of the human resources manager to department head.
Human Resources has been formalized as an official city department.
“Realistically it has operated as its own department over the years,” Murray said. “So it’s not a big organizational change; it’s just time to formalize it.”
The city’s information technology functions have been moved under the new HR department. Kevin Bushard is being promoted to head of the new department, starting in the new year.
The change is part of some staff restructuring first discussed in the fall. Other changes include moving the building code inspections programs to be part of the fire department and under the oversight of Fire Chief Dustin Dienst. The department is now officially called the Fire and Code Services Department and the fire chief’s official title is director of fire and code services.
On Tuesday, patrol officer John Gramling also was promoted to a sergeant with the Faribault Police Department. Six internal applicants were interviewed for the post by a panel that included the police chief, police department commanders and some community members.