Shelter update: Tails keep waggin'

Gastineau Humane Society has strong 2009, benefits from community contributions

Posted: Sunday, January 03, 2010

Despite 2009's ragged economy, the animals at the Gastineau Humane Society are doing fine, thanks to the generosity of Juneau, said Executive Director Chava Lee.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Not to mention, their adoption numbers were up in December.

"Juneau residents are generous with their time and their money," Lee said. "Local businesses are extremely supportive and helpful. Not just at the holiday time, but all year around."

Among the many contributors this year to the shelter were employees at the Department of Labor, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Girl Scout Junior Troop 4011 and many individuals.

"Donations covered everything from food and toys to towels, blankets and cleaning products," Lee said. "People were great about gifting things we need and use."

Also, the shelter adopted out about 48 animals in December - 13 more than average - despite it being the time of year when the shelter usually receives more animals in need of care, more are released by their owners or more animals suffer neglect.

"The effects of a bad economy, or any emotional crisis whether in Juneau or across the United States, that causes stress in people, causes problems for animals," Lee said. "Unfortunately, this is often the time when built up frustrations spill out and are taken out on pets. When that happens, the results can be quite ugly."

Luckily, the shelter has Animal Control officers to help deal with such situations and a number of services.

"It is our goal to protect the animal and give individuals the assistance they may need," Lee said. "We try our best to help people who are in crisis keep their pets."

GHS also offers health and behavior assessments, vaccinations, microchipping, spaying or neutering and registration.

"We do a lot for (the animals) before they ever go to the public," said administrative supervisor Samantha Blankenship.

This year, the shelter even started a program called Head Start.

"It's for animals with behavioral issues, like dogs that may not be potty trained or they have issues with fear of men, whatever it may be," Blankenship said. "Our trainers are able to work with them on issues. ... When they do go into adoption, we're able to work with the family who has adopted them ... and we feel that gives a lot more animals a chance to be adopted."

Because of the high number of adoptions recently, the shelter has only eight cats and two dogs up for adoption right now. But they do have an abundance of rabbits, Lee said.

"Rabbits make wonderful pets," she said. "They are affectionate, can be trained to go in a box and they are soft and fun."

As far as needs, the shelter always welcomes more cleaning supplies and wood pellets, a much more environmentally friendly cat litter.

An all-day rabies vaccination clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 19. Normally, they conduct rabies clinics every Tuesday from 3 to 4 p.m., at the cost of $20.

"We do this to assist in the licensing process (all dogs must be licensed and all dogs, cats and ferrets must have a current rabies vaccination)," Lee said.

The shelter provides microchipping for $35; use of the Groom Room (one animal for 30 minutes) for $16; spaying and neutering on a sliding scale; and day and overnight boarding, called Doggy Day Care, for owners who are out of town or would simply like more social practice for their pet.

The shelter also can register any pet, Lee added.

"In the case of an emergency, either a natural disaster or personal emergency, we will be able to let emergency personnel know what animals are living in your home so they can be rescued," she said.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at

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