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Cute enough to bring home

A physical location, a place to call home, has been pertinent to the Humane Society of the Lakes.

"We've adopted more than half as many animals since we've opened (the new shelter) as we did all of last year," Beth Pridday, president of the humane society, said.

The shelter has been open for six weeks, and tomorrow (Thursday) the organization is celebrating with a grand opening.

"It's truly the success of having a building," she added.

Before the building, there were about 20 animals for people to adopt. Now there are 40-plus to visit at once, from which to decide on a pet.

"No doubt about it, that helps," Pridday said of having the visibility of a higher volume of animals.

Now that the organization is more settled, the board has also found a need for one more paid position. They hired Nancy Schatzke as a part-time executive director. She takes care of the administrative side of the shelter and the bookkeeping.

"She's the people area of the shelter, and Erica is the pet side," Pridday said, referring to Erica Borsheim, who serves as shelter director.

The Humane Society of the Lakes has had a charitable gaming license since November, and has already seen some profit from that. But there's still a need.

The board needs $200,000 to pay off the construction debt against the shelter. Pridday said getting that paid off would lighten the load and help the board focus more on operational expenses.

"The community has been really generous," she added.

Each of the 16 board members is taking his or her turn volunteering out at the shelter on Saturdays. Pridday said she spent this past Saturday out there, and it's different than being home with a pet. Between laundry and dishes, it's non-stop busy.

"It's like running 10 households," she said.

At the shelter, people are welcome to bring their own pets in to make sure the new addition to the family will get along with their prospective housemates. And those who can't adopt right now, Pridday said, are welcome to come in as well.

"They (the animals) need that human contact, (it) keeps them adoptable."

The board has plans for a dog yard development and a new cat condo. "We're looking to keep the animals entertained," she said.

Thursday, the grand opening ceremony begins at 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting, followed by tours of the facility and an open house until 6 p.m.

Other upcoming events for the Humane Society of the Lakes include the third annual rummage sale, set for this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Washington School.

Also, on the third Saturday of each month, the humane society will continue its Adoption Days, now held at the shelter. In April, Adoption Days set a record with eight animals being adopted that day. With the shelter, the organization will now be able to continue Adoption Days year round.

Although the first year is certain to have "challenges and growth," the shelter board is happy to finally have a permanent home.

"A lot has been accomplished in a short period of time," Pridday said of the last year, and the building going up and opening.