TAWAS CITY – “They’re all waiting for a home,” says Iosco County Animal Shelter Manager Linda Friedgen, of the multitude of cats which have ended up in the facility.
Overseen by the Iosco County Humane Society, the Tawas City shelter has experienced its fair share of influxes in cat surrenders over the years. This time around – with a current total of about 140 cats – the state of Michigan has noted that the shelter needs to get these numbers down.
There is a sign in front of the building, advising that the facility is not accepting cats at this time. However, staff are put in a difficult position, as people continue to unload their unwanted animals regardless of the cramped quarters.
Also, unless a cat is too sick/injured for any kind of treatment, for example, they will not be put down.
Employee Michelle Weaks said a woman recently drove up with a box of kittens who were four days old. When she was informed that the shelter wasn’t accepting cats, the woman threatened to throw the animals into a river.
Weaks said that stories such as these, each more heartbreaking than the next, are never-ending and occur on a daily basis. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Iosco County Humane Society President Mary Kuron said that people have not only dropped off boxes of kittens, but also female cats who happen to be pregnant. One such feline just delivered nine kittens at the shelter.
Weaks further shared that, on the evening of Sept. 12, her husband found a box of four kittens on Lorenz Road in Tawas City, just off of M-55. The box was taped shut and it was downpouring that night, she said.
“People just don’t get it,” Friedgen lamented.
She said that several cats were recently abandoned in a wooded area of Oscoda, as well. Their fur had to be shaved, and one of the animals was reported to also have an undeveloped brain.
She recalled yet another recent incident, where a man brought in three cats he had contained within a live trap. The animals had gone to the bathroom in the cage, and they were soaking wet when they were brought to the shelter because the man had hosed down the trap while the cats were inside.
According to Friedgen, when the man was told that the facility couldn’t take any more cats, he asked if they wanted him to “drop them in the woods then.”
Scenarios such as these have led to shelter employees and volunteers taking animals into their own homes, as has been reported, but these individuals are also running out of options.
The abandoning of cats is not the only issue faced by the shelter, with Friedgen explaining that some people don’t put in the time and energy needed for the animals, once they are adopted.
For instance, she said a large, lovable cat named Frieda was adopted from the facility, but later returned by the woman who picked her up because Frieda was having trouble using her litter box.
Friedgen said it was discovered that the cat had crystals in her urine, which required nothing more than a simple change in diet – instead, Frieda was once again left without a family of her own.
Since this reporter met with shelter staff on Sept. 17, though, they were happy to report that Frieda has found her forever home, and was adopted on Sept. 25.
To help curb the overpopulation problem at the source, those from the shelter say the importance of spaying and neutering one’s animals cannot be stressed enough.
Weaks said another cause for the uptick stems from those who are actually trying to help out the animals. For example, people have fed stray cats, thinking that they are doing something nice. Oftentimes, though, the cats begin to multiply and it becomes too much for the person to handle.
With winter just around the corner, this can make for a devastating – and deadly – time of year for stray animals.
Kuron said the adoption fees for cats vary. Most of them are already fixed, in which case the price is $40.
Weaks pointed out that the cats receive vaccines, flea treatments, medications and other care. So the adoption fee is rather minimal, considering that it doesn’t even fully cover the basic expenses.
On a more positive note, in other shelter news, Friedgen expressed her appreciation for the community’s help in catching a dog which had been dumped in East Tawas by its former owner.
For about three weeks, the roughly 1-year-old dog had been spotted running back and forth near US-23, with numerous people attempting to help the skittish pup.
Friedgen said that East Tawas resident Connie O’Connor set up a box and was able to start feeding the dog, after which Friedgen and Animal Control Officer Bill Cronk worked to set up a live trap and finally caught the dog.
“He was scared to death of everybody. Now he just wants to play,” Kuron said, adding that it took a good three days before the dog was comfortable enough to even let shelter staff near him.
Affectionately named “Boo,” due his initially nervous nature, the pit bull/Irish setter mix – who may also have a couple other breeds in his background – has already been claimed by an interested pet parent.
“He just needs some TLC,” Kuron remarked.
Friedgen said the rescue was a group effort, and that extra kudos goes to O’Connor for going above and beyond.
The Iosco County Animal Shelter is located at 3881 W. M-55, and representatives can be reached at 362-3170. For more information, including photos and details about adoptable animals in the facility, the shelter’s online Facebook page can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/iosco.society.