Phase One Almost Complete, but We’re Not Done Yet!March 9, 2016
Lakeland Animal Shelter is getting a long-overdue makeover and needs support from the community. Phase One of the new shelter is nearly completed and some animals will begin moving into the new building soon. In the meantime, Executive Director Kristen Perry is doing everything she can to educate the public about the shelter’s continuous needs, which include $1.6 million to finish Phase Two of construction. (check out some progress photos at the end of this story)
“We’re excited about this,” Perry said. “The current operation has been a lot of trial and error over the last 20 years since I’ve been here. There is no lack of care for these animals, but we’ve taken every space that we’d normally use for humans and office space and filled it with animals, which makes this really hard.”
The original shelter, located at 3551 South Highway 67, Elkhorn, was built to accommodate less than 30 percent of its current animal population. Despite several renovations and additions to extend its life, a new shelter is necessary to provide proper housing, veterinary care and socialization for the 3,000 cats and dogs the shelter takes in annually from Walworth County.
“This will be a nice change for all the animals and all of us with the additional space,” Perry said.
Perry’s most crucial message: Just because the shell of the new building is standing and appears to be completed, it’s not. The shelter was able to save money by constructing the entire shell right away and raising the funds to furnish it as construction progressed.
“From a distance it looks like we’re all done, but we definitely are not,” she said. “We really need $1.6 million.” Donations can be mailed to the shelter or processed through their website at www.LakelandAnimalShelter.org.
The new building will be more welcoming and spacious for animals, employees and volunteers, helping to prevent congestion at the front desk, in the animal housing areas and the rooms where people interested in adoption come to meet the animals. There will be more space for pet adoption counselors to work with anybody interested in adoption as well as for veterinarians to perform health checks and surgeries.
Lakeland Animal Shelter is very active in the Walworth County area, making it even more crucial that community members step up with donations to finish construction. The shelter provides animal care and control services for all of Walworth County. That means Perry and her staff takes in any stray cats or dogs as well as surrendered animals when owners are unable to care for them any longer. Housing, feed, water, veterinary services and socialization are all provided for those animals, bringing the monthly cost to $65,000 for the roughly 250 animals taken in monthly.
“We have a core group of people who support our operating costs,” Perry said. “But they’ve given until it hurts and they can’t give any more. I believe that if people learn about what we do here daily, they’d support us.”
Every weekend, an outreach team from the shelter goes somewhere in the community, sets up a table of information and talks to people about the shelter and its day-to-day operations and needs. Perry and her staff members work hard to educate the public, including young students in area schools. The outreach team puts an emphasis on pet responsibility and long-term animal care and commitments.
“We’re a little bit of everywhere,” Perry said.
Success stories at the shelter come every time a pet is placed in his or her forever home. Perry said the most satisfying times are when an animal comes into the shelter after being neglected but is rejuvenated over time while being cared for at the shelter. The animal comes back to life again and eventually gets new owners who will certainly provide better treatment, she said.
Take Caesar for instance. He is a three year old German shepherd that was brought to us when his family was moving and could no longer keep him. Unfortunately, he had a long-term, mostly untreated eye condition that he came to us with that made his life very uncomfortable and painful.
With help from from some of our humane heroes at Delavan Lakes Veterinary Clinic and The Lake Geneva Animal Hospital, we were able to find out the Caesar had dry eye syndrome that because it was left untreated for so long he also had a secondary condition called entropion. Treatment began right away for both conditions and Caesar was almost immediately more comfortable and content. He is now in a home with a new family that will be happy to officially adopt him once he gets the all clear from the vet that his eyes are as recovered as they can be. Unfortunately, Caesar will also have some vision loss for the rest his life, but because of the care from the Lakeland Animal Shelter, he will go on to have a full and pain free life with his new family.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes it takes time and patience to see that light. Perry said this isn’t as hard on the heart as if a volunteer came in to work to find that his or her favorite animal had to be put down, which never happens at this no-kill guarantee shelter.
“Everybody here is working to make the animals more adoptable during their time here,” Perry said. “They are all going home. It’s just a matter of time.”
For more information, to donate, or to sign up for their email newsletter, please visit www.lakelandanimalshelter.org or call 262-723-1000.