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Recession leaves more pets in cold

The struggling economy is taking its toll on animal shelters across the country. Families who are facing hard financial times are being forced to surrender their dogs, cats and other pets to animal shelters at an alarming rate.

In turn, animal shelters are having a hard time keeping up because while demand for their services is skyrocketing, financial donations to these shelters -- also due to the economy -- are dramatically declining.

Detroit Lakes has not been immune to the trend.

In response to this growing need, Maurices is launching a nationwide effort to support local shelters and the animals they help. Rescues & Runways will sweep the country during the month of September.

Next month, more than 700 Maurices stores in 44 states -- including Detroit Lakes -- will host pet-themed fashion shows in partnership with their local animal shelter; sponsor pet supply drives to support their local shelter; and sell a special charm to benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"Given the crisis that animals and animal shelters are facing, we are confident that they could use our help," said Vivian Behrens, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Maurices. "By shining the spotlight on these animals -- and with our customers' and associates' passionate support for this worthy cause -- I know we can make a difference."

Each Rescues & Runways fashion show will feature models from each community walking the runway with the latest fall looks from Maurices, along with a pet, of course, that is available for adoption.

The Detroit Lakes Maurices store will host its own Rescues & Runways show on Thursday, Sept. 17, in partnership with the Humane Society of the Lakes, which will bring some of the cats and dogs currently available for adoption to strut their stuff on the runway, alongside the models.

"We're really excited to get the word out there (about the need for pet adoption)," said Allison Sukke, manager of the Detroit Lakes Maurices store, which is located inside the Washington Square Mall. "It's actually going to be an annual event we're doing every September."

The number of pets that will be participating in the show depends on the number of volunteers they get to do the show, and how many local pets are currently up for adoption, Sukke added.

"Our hope is to garner attention and support for the shelters. Ultimately, we hope to encourage people to adopt an animal from a shelter so as to provide a loving home to a 'forever friend,'" explained Behrens.

"It's just something kind of fun and different to get the community more involved with the Humane Society and learn how they can contribute," said Sukke.

What many people don't realize, she added, is that the Humane Society relies entirely on community donations to fund pet food and supplies for its shelter.

"They need the community's help," she added.

In addition to the fashion show, Maurices in Detroit Lakes will also sponsor a month-long pet supply drive, Sept. 1-30. Area residents can come into the store "anytime we're open" and drop off office and cleaning supplies as well as pet supplies -- " anything the humane society can use," Sukke said.

Customers who bring in a donation will receive a coupon for 20 percent off one regular-priced item. The campaign goal is to collect 500,000 pounds of supplies across the nation.

Also recognizing pet lovers' devotion to their own pets, Maurices is introducing a limited edition "Friends For Life Charm" that will be on sale at the store: The charm will be a celebration of the special bond people share with their furry friends.

"It's a token of unconditional love," said Behrens. "Women can wear half of the charm, while the other half of the charm is worn by their pet."

The Friends for Life Charm is just $5 and will be sold in all Maurices stores from mid-September through Oct. 31. For every charm purchased, $2.50 will go to support the ASPCA and its national shelter outreach program. The ASPCA will receive a minimum donation of $50,000 from Maurices, with an ultimate goal of raising more than $100,000.

"We are thrilled that Maurices will be introducing this charm to the pet-loving public," said Jo Sullivan, ASPCA executive vice president of external affairs. "Customers will feel good knowing their donation helps the ASPCA save the lives of countless animals each day."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454