Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Animal shelter expansion enhances creature comforts

October 25, 2007


Open House today

The Lawrence Humane Society will have an open house from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the shelter, 1805 E. 19th St.

The newly renovated and expanded Charles Ise Memorial Animal Shelter will be rededicated during the open house. In addition, the stray intake facility will be dedicated in the name of Linda K. Watrak, of Denton, Texas, who worked at the shelter from 1997 to 2005 and was instrumental in its success. The dedication ceremony will be at 5:30 p.m.

The humane society still needs to raise $250,000 to pay for the $550,000 project. To donate, call the shelter at 843-6835 or visit its Web site.

Howl-oween fun

The first Doggy Monsters' Ball will be from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Jazzhaus, 926 1/2 Mass.

The Lawrence Humane Society benefit is open to the public, and families are encouraged to bring their dogs dressed in costume. Activities include a doggy costume contest, a "trick for treat" contest, raffle and fashion show featuring shelter dogs available for adoption.

Participants are encouraged to donate cash or items on the humane society's "wish-list," including clay cat litter, canned dog or cat food, copy paper, bleach, dish and laundry soap, and paper towels.

For more information about the event, call Amber Nickel at 856-7297. For more about the humane society, call 843-6835 or visit

Three tiny white kittens with speckles of color played in a cage Wednesday morning at the Lawrence Humane Society while two older red-striped kittens, Rowdy and Breeze, rested in another cage.

Playing and catching some shut-eye is a little easier for kittens nowadays because of a recently completed 5,000-square-foot expansion and renovation project. Before the project, they were housed with hand pets and noisy puppies such as 6-month-old Sienna, a hound mix, who was wagging her tail and barking up a storm.

Sienna also should be happier because her running space has tripled since the renovation. Instead of being housed in a 3-by-4-foot cage, she now has a 10-by-4-foot area.

"Before, we had puppies in the same room as kittens, and we just had a couple of stainless steel cages. Now we have runs for all of our puppies, and it's wonderful," said Bailey Slater, who has worked at the shelter for one year.

Not only has the project benefited the animals at the humane society, but the 19 employees and 300 volunteers as well. The air quality is better, and they have more storage space and places to work with the approximately 650 animals.

"The extra room is phenomenal," said Midge Grinstead, executive director of the society. "The air intake is working really well."

Slater agreed and said it was challenging to work around the construction - which lasted about six months - but it was well worth it.

"This work room is much bigger and helps us organize things," she said.

The project consisted of adding 1,521 square feet of space and renovating 4,800 square feet at the shelter, 1805 E. 19th St. Some of the project's highlights were:

¢ Adding 14 new 10-by-4-foot dog runs for puppies.

¢ Increasing the number of adult dog runs from 13 to 20.

¢ Creating a room for kittens only, instead of housing them with puppies.

¢ Adding an educational room where people can peruse information such as how to house train a dog and where to find a pet sitter.

¢ Adding a new work-room area where employees can wash animals, towels and dishes.

Still begging

The cost of the project was about $550,000, and the shelter has only raised $297,000. It took out a loan to help pay for the costs - something Grinstead didn't want to do.

"Any money that we spend on interest or on a loan payment is money I could be using to provide services or care for the animals in our community," Grinstead said. "So, I hate it."

Humane society leaders would have waited until the funds could be raised, but state animal health authorities ordered the shelter to make a large number of repairs or face revocation of the shelter license. The repairs included fixing drainage problems, buckling floors and warped ceilings.

Initially, Grinstead hoped to have the project finished by June, but delays in orders, especially metal, caused problems.

"The metal people would not cooperate," she said. "It was just like everything that we relied on other companies for was a problem. So, that was the holdup."

Dedicated worker

Unfortunately, Grinstead said, the new screened-in porch area for cats and hand pets hasn't been completed. She expects the construction to take another six weeks.

She was hoping it would be done for today's open house and dedication ceremony. The stray intake facility, which was built in 2001, is being named after Linda K. Watrak, who started as a volunteer and became a full-time employee for the humane society. Watrak was the operations manager and an animal technician for about 10 years before moving to Denton, Texas, in 2005.

"The shelter would not have been here - it was close to closing - if she would not have come on," Grinstead said. "A lot of the policies and procedures that we do, we attribute to her."

Watrak, who will attend today's festivities, said she was looking forward to seeing the latest renovations.

"These are the ideal circumstances for those animals to survive," she said. "Lawrence should be really proud of having a cutting-edge facility."

And she credits the community and Grinstead for making the shelter a success.

"The only thing that I can say is that my name is on it, but there are hundreds of names that made it possible," Watrak said.


yankeelady 10 years, 8 months ago

It's nice to just appreciate them . Kitties don't judge, they just love you unconditionally. How could anyone be unhappy with a sleepy, purring kitten on their lap? Not everything has to be contentious, some things just are.

Confrontation 10 years, 8 months ago

As long as the kitties are comfy....That's all that matters in this town.

kmat 10 years, 8 months ago

Everytime there is a positive article about the shelter, one of the conservative j**k-off's has to post something like this. Get a life confrontation. Do you even have a heart?

You can be a loving soul and donate to multiple causes and help the animals and people. This month I've given to the United Way and also have given my usual contribution to the shelter.

To those who do have hearts, please contribute to the shelter. Even a roll of paper towels is appreciated and is one less thing they have to purchase and can use funds to help pay for the renovations and other needs.

Aluminum cans - they take cans and use the funds to help spay/neuter animals. I see so many people taking their cans to the recycling center at Wal Mart where they just make a profit off of them. Please take the to the shelter so a good charity is benefitting from them.

salad 10 years, 8 months ago

I think confrontation is just being a troll.

Marge is a great person and has done wonders with that shelter. We've adopted two cats and a dog from there. They do it all on a shoestring too. This is one of the best successes & features of Lawrence. They really provide a great service to the city.

Ceallach 10 years, 8 months ago

Now kmat, I'm conservative AND I support the shelter. Through the years nearly all of my animals have been adopted. My family and I contribute supplies from their "needs" list on a regular basis and I tell as many people as possible about their services. Generalizations are never valid (even the one I just made:) Be nice.

kshiker 10 years, 8 months ago

Thank you on all the past good work to the shelter staff! Even though I regularly espouse contrarian views on other topics in this forum, you would have to be a completely heartless fool to not support our local humane society. I hope to increase my contributions to the shelter this year to help fund part of the expansion. Keep up the good work!

Confrontation 10 years, 8 months ago

"Everytime there is a positive article about the shelter, one of the conservative j**k-off's has to post something like this. Get a life confrontation. Do you even have a heart?"

This cracked me up! Sorry to burst your liberal heart, but I'm far from being conservative. I'm just sick of people wasting money on kitties and puppies (rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards, etc.) when money needs to go to HUMAN services. This wasted money at the shelter could easily help fund college scholarships, better educational supplies at the schools, etc., etc. I hate knowing that my city taxes help fund this crap when there are so many kids in need. If you help a child, then you decrease the chances that the kid will have a future in crime or poverty. The impact of that will continue for generations. If you help a kitten, you do nothing but get people to waste more money on the kitten. People have no right to complain about the children of this generation if they are donating their money to animal causes.

Martin_D_15 10 years, 8 months ago

now they have a place to send the homeless!! they could scrub the floors and scoop up the poop! then they can eat all the cat food they desire!

conocybe_lactea 10 years, 8 months ago

Those are such beautiful kittens. Kittens are the greatest joy in life and such a fine job capturing it in the pictures.

GretchenJP 10 years, 8 months ago

conocybe_lactea (Anonymous) says:

"Those are such beautiful kittens. Kittens are the greatest joy in life and such a fine job capturing it in the pictures."

I couldn't agree more.

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