The Clay County Humane Shelter purchased a new rescue and transport van Feb. 11. It was funded by several large bequests over the past few years and donations from individuals in the community.
The old van, which had more than 104,000 miles on it, was requiring a lot of costly repairs. The van was sold to the South Central Indiana K-9 Search and Rescue based in Bloomington. South Central Indiana K-9 Search and Rescue provides the training of dogs and handlers for emergency response. One of its alumni was a dog from the Clay County shelter. According to DeMers, South Central Indiana K-9 was very happy to get the old van even knowing it required some repairs.
Board president Charlie Brown and vice-president Laura DeMers were at the shelter on a cold snowy day recently to show off the new vehicle.
Seven stainless steel cages in the cargo area of the Chevrolet Astro van can carry dogs, cats, pigs, goats and other animals up to 200 pounds. The shelter uses the van frequently to transport animals to veterinary offices to get spayed or neutered.
"We can have up to half a dozen animals that go on a given day," DeMers said. "We usually have about 60 dogs and 30 cats on the premises daily."
The shelter requires a $70 donation for dogs and $30 for cats to release the animal. That money helps offset the cost of spay or neuter fees, rabbi shots and all other shots. The adoption fee also helps pay for food, transportation and the everyday expense of running the facility.
The shelter gets some funding from the city and county. But according to DeMers, even with the adoption fees, all the necessary expenses are not covered. The shelter could not survive without the private donations.
"The food bill here is astronomical," Brown said. "People can give anything. Even a bag of dog food would be appreciated."
DeMers said that the shelter has three full-time and one part-time workers. It's not enough but all the shelter can afford. Someone has to be available to clean and feed animals seven days a week and staffers get 60-80 calls per day.
"The employees are very committed," DeMers praised. "Their primary focus is the animals. They give so much love and compassion to the animals.
"If someone wanted to donate to help the shelter, we can use money, food, and even service donations like carpentry help," DeMers continued.
"Some people volunteer their time, which is greatly appreciated, but there may be limits as to what they can do. One volunteer comes to answer the phone. That's difficult, however, because a volunteer usually wouldn't have all the answers to the questions that are asked.
Excel Graphics donated the picture on the van. It is of a little Terrier mix named Jordan.
In December, 2001, on a very bitter cold day, a lady saw the dog lying at the side of the road. She could tell the dog had been hit by a car and assumed the motionless animal was dead.
She was saddened again when she passed the dog the next day. As she drove by on the third day, the lady saw the little dog raise its head. She immediately called the humane shelter.
Jordan, as the dog was named, had a broken pelvis and a broken leg. But, miraculously, he survived. His story was publicized and $700 was donated for any surgery he might need.
As it turned out, Jordan required no surgery so the money was used to establish a medical emergency fund for homeless animals. Jordan was adopted by a family in Illinois and is thriving.
"We'd like to get the community as involved as possible," DeMers said. "Any monetary donations can be made out to the Clay County Humane Shelter."
Brown and DeMers both think animal lovers are very special people.
"Anybody who cares for animals," Brown said, "I usually find they care for people too."