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The Cats' Meow

Dunn Co. shelter completes feline-focused expansion

Garrett Denney

PLEASE PAWS TO ADMIRE OUR NEW HOME. A $130,000 fundraising project has allowed for a 1,400-square-foot addition to the Dunn County Humane Society, which now has room for between 120 and 140 cats.
PLEASE PAWS TO ADMIRE OUR NEW HOME. A $130,000 fundraising project has allowed for a 1,400-square-foot addition to the Dunn County Humane Society, which now has room for between 120 and 140 cats.

A local humane association is the cat’s meow as they put the finishing touches on a big construction project to provide housing for scores of homeless felines.

The Dunn County Humane Society in Menomonie recently completed a yearlong facility expansion, which involved a 1,400-square-foot addition. Aimed at reducing overcrowding of the society’s cat population, the increased footprint more than doubles existing facilities for housing and caring for felines the shelter takes in. The human society now has space for between 120 and 140 cats, Executive Director Josh Dalton says.

When the society’s current facility was built in 1997 it was designed to house between 30 and 60 cats and as many as 12 dogs at a time. Before the addition, the staff says the shelter routinely filled its available space to capacity. The shortage had a particular impact on the society’s cat population, but it soon became clear that both the cat and dog facilities were due for an upgrade.

The group takes great pride in being a “no kill” shelter – that is, an animal shelter that does not euthanize any animals it takes in – and made plans for an expanded facility to handle the growing animal population. In 2012 the society renovated and expanded the dog area, raising its capacity from 12 dogs to 24. The project also brought the shelter up to code with Wisconsin Act 90, a law designed to ensure a safe and healthy standard of living for adoptable dogs.

Then in 2015, fundraising and work began to address the shelter’s cat facilities. Staff sought $130,000 to drastically improve and expand existing cat space. In partnership with the Stout Student Construction Association and with oversight from Market and Johnson’s Tim Esselman, the project broke ground last September.

The student team worked through the winter to nearly double the existing footprint of the humane society. At the same time, shelter staff worked to raise funds necessary for the project. A majority of the money eventually came through private donations, with corporate partners supplying the rest.

Shelter staffers say they have seen a gradual increase in pet ownership over the past couple of years. Additionally, pet adoption tends to follow a seasonal cycle, with more dogs adopted in the summertime when people can get outdoors and more cats adopted in the winter.

Outside of construction, the shelter also recently announced a new program to encourage veterans and senior citizens to adopt companion animals. With support from the Wal-Mart Community Fund and the Menomonie Lion’s Club, the society is now able to reduce the cost to adopt a cat or dog for qualified individuals.

For more information about the expansion or to volunteer, contact the Dunn County Humane Society at (715) 232-9790 or visit dunncountyhumanesociety.org.