Animal shelter director shares updates for 2018

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  • WHISPER IS A calico kitten at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter. While her hind legs don’t work properly, her temperment is friendly. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

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    WHISPER IS A kitten at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter in Polson. The calico is special needs, as her hind legs will need surgery. She is one of several cats at the shelter. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

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    MISSION VALLEY Animal Shelter Director Filip Parusz holds Whibley, a Chihuahua mix. The shelter, which is under construction for additions, is usually double capacity of 15 dogs. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

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    WHIBLEY IS A three-year-old Chihuahua mix at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter. Director Filip Panusz said the dog has experienced several seizures, but the high-energy dog does not need to be on medication for it. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • WHISPER IS A calico kitten at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter. While her hind legs don’t work properly, her temperment is friendly. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 1

    WHISPER IS A kitten at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter in Polson. The calico is special needs, as her hind legs will need surgery. She is one of several cats at the shelter. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 2

    MISSION VALLEY Animal Shelter Director Filip Parusz holds Whibley, a Chihuahua mix. The shelter, which is under construction for additions, is usually double capacity of 15 dogs. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 3

    WHIBLEY IS A three-year-old Chihuahua mix at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter. Director Filip Panusz said the dog has experienced several seizures, but the high-energy dog does not need to be on medication for it. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

This year the Mission Valley Animal Shelter has some new ideas that staff members are going to try.

Director Filip Panusz said that while there are “many things” the shelter wants to roll out in 2018, the most important is the Advisory Councils on Community Canines.

“We are hoping to reach out to the community and get them involved in trying to find solutions. That’s the idea behind these councils,” Panusz said.

Problems with stray dogs include chasing livestock or being aggressive enough that law enforcement has to intervene because there aren’t many options.

The councils, Panusz said, are anticipated to be in effect in May.

Initially there will be four, targeting Pablo, St. Ignatius, Ronan and Arlee “because it seems like that’s where” there are issues regarding stray dogs, as well as U.S. Highway 93 traffic which kills a lot of strays, Panusz said.

The stray dogs are not spayed and not neutered, adding to the problem.

“There’s a need. I get called pretty much daily about dogs in those communities,” Panusz said.

“It’s hopefully going to make a difference having people in those communities, acting as liasons, helping us address those issues.”

Safety and health, dogs scaring children, exposure to parvo for dogs and overpopulation are all concerns that will be addressed through time with the councils.

Panusz, who has been director for the last nine months, said that fundraisers haven’t been done on a large scale at the shelter for some time.

He said he hopes to do two “big, very well-publicized” community fundraising events a year.

Last September, the Red Lion in Polson held the shelter’s first “puppy party” fundraiser, which Sanusz said exceeded his expectations, raising $50,000.

This year, the party will be held at the Red Lion again, on Aug. 25.

This summer, Panusz said he’s hoping “to kick off” the other idea for the community.

On June 2, a “bow wow” will be held in either St. Ignatius or Arlee, outdoors.

Tribal members will be welcome to share history and their relationships with animals at the fundraiser.

“This is the home of the Salish and Kootenai. They have a different relationship with animals than others do,” Panusz said.

“It’s going to be a family-friendly event.”

He Panusz said at the bow wow, he would like to auction off spay and neuter certificates.

A sponsor would be “matched up” with a dog, particularly in one of the four communities the councils will focus.

“This is going to be an effort to get more of these animals” spayed and neutered.

Other “things on the plate” Sanusz said, in 2019 a transition will take place.

The capacity for cats is limited. Safely, about 25 can be housed.

Next year, Panusz said he hopes to start a program focusing on frequent and free spay and neuter clinics for cats, that would work similar to a “catch and release” type deal.

The small staff at the shelter is responsible for more animals than what capacity allows, Panusz said.

Currently, the shelter is undergoing expansion, which will allow the capacity of dogs to double from the current number of 15.

In its entirety, the shelter is at approximately 3,500 square feet. Once the additions are completed, it will sit at 3,960.

A lot of the current space will be repurposed, allowing for a quarantine room and a visiting room.

For more general information on volunteer opportunities, contact the Mission Valley Animal Shelter at (406) 883-5312.

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