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Humane Society shelter to open next month

The New Year is a big one for the local humane society.

The organization has changed its name from the Becker County Humane Society to the Humane Society of the Lakes, elected a new president to the board, Beth Pridday, and is planning to open the doors of the newly constructed shelter within weeks.

The humane society began fund-raising three years ago with a vision of a shelter. In June 2006, the group broke ground on Highway 59 North.

Former board president Steve Anderson said the board put a lot of thought into the organization's name change, and decided this was the time to do it.

"First, we don't want to put geographical limits on the organization," he said as a reason. The humane society has always taken stray animals from out of the county.

"Second, during fund-raising, justifiably, people thought it was run by Becker County," he said, although it never has been. He said the organization is 100 percent privately funded.

The humane society isn't a part of the government process, he said, and the organization doesn't want that stigma to hinder fund-raising.

A reason for changing the name now is financial as well.

"If we don't do it now, it'll cost a lot more later," he said with having to change signs at the new shelter, letterhead and more.

Along with the changes, the society will now be able to take surrenders as well as strays.

Surrenders are when people call -- which Anderson said happens once or twice a week -- asking for the humane society to take animals that can no longer be with the family because of moving, entering a nursing home, etc.

In the past, there wasn't enough room in foster homes for surrenders too, but now with the shelter, both are welcome.

The foster families are still on-call for backup.

"For overflow, we'll need help," he said. "Second, for very young litters of puppies and kittens. It's too much of a shock to their systems (to put them in a shelter too young) and they're not adoptable (until a certain age)."

The shelter has the ability to house 26 dogs and 26-30 cats.

By next weekend, Anderson said they plan to bring in furniture, supplies and the animals. Once a trial run and routine has been established, the shelter will be open to the public for people to come adopt a pet.

Anderson said by mid-February, it will certainly be open. Hopefully before.

Shelter hours are yet to be determined, but it will likely be open 30 hours a week, four days during the week and Saturdays. He said they will also take animals by appointment.

So far there are no plans for grooming services at the location, but there is a small area for start-up supplies for sale.

Along with the shelter comes the help. Erica Borsheim and Sarah Faith have been hired -- Borsheim as director, and Faith as her part-time assistant.

Anderson said there were about 20 applications for the head position, and three with prior experience, one of which was Borsheim.

"Erica was a very strong candidate in and of herself," Anderson said regardless of her past work experience.

Borsheim, who worked as a groomer in Fargo, moved to Detroit Lakes and began work with the humane society five months ago.

"I wanted to work with animals since I was 16," Borsheim said. "And I've always liked the humane society."

Borsheim attended North Dakota State University for wildlife zoology and says working with animals is "definitely my job."

After moving the supplies in next weekend, Borsheim said she would like to take the following week for her and Faith, who is from Audubon, to get into the swing of things and then open the shelter to the public.

"I'm excited to move the animals in," she said. "I'm just really, really excited. The volunteers and donators have been great. They've made it possible."

The remaining workers at the shelter are volunteers.

Volunteers can sign up to help online at the humane society's new Web site,

The humane society's next fund-raiser is scheduled for March 2. The Mardi Gras-themed event will be held at the Speak Easy.

The organization will then have an open house in the spring for the pubic to come view the shelter inside and out.

"It is a big expense," Borsheim said of the facility, "but worth it."