There's not a lot of room for new residents at Detroit Lakes' Marshmallow Animal Shelter.

"We've seen a pretty large influx of animals, and a steady intake flow," says Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman. "We've been a lot busier lately."

As an example, Ohman said, they've had five feral pregnant cats turn up this year, when in years past, they've seen maybe one or two at most. She attributes at least part of that to the fact that Minnesota veterinary clinics were all but shut down for a period of time this past year, due to COVID-19 concerns — which meant that spaying and neutering services were also curtailed.

Marshmallow Animal Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman cuddles Florence, a fluffy six-month-old kitten who is ready for adoption. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Marshmallow Animal Shelter Manager Cassi Ohman cuddles Florence, a fluffy six-month-old kitten who is ready for adoption. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

With a permitted capacity of 71 cats and 25 dogs, the shelter located inside the Lucky Dog Boarding and Training Complex on the north edge of town is pretty full at present, she added.

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"We need more foster homes," Ohman said.

"And there are always plenty of volunteer opportunities," added Karen Skoyles, who serves as vice president and secretary of the shelter's board of directors.

Socialization (petting and playing with the animals), taking publicity photos of cats and dogs waiting for adoption, cleaning the kennels, fundraising — these are just a few of the ways that shelter volunteers can help, she added.

And of course, there are always cats and dogs in need of "fur-ever" homes — some of them requiring a little extra love.

"We have two 3-legged dogs waiting for adoption," Ohman said, adding that one appeared to have had his paw caught in a trap, while the other has been shot in the foot and required amputation.

There are also some cats awaiting adoption that have special needs — such as those diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), who much like humans living with HIV, can live full, happy lives despite their diagnosis, she added.

Some of these special needs animals are already in foster home situations; mothers with young kittens and puppies are also given high priority for placement with foster families.

Foster placement is sometimes essential, even without special health needs. "Not every animal flourishes in a shelter environment," Skoyles said.

Foster families, as well as those looking to adopt a pet, must go through a vetting process after filling out the initial application, and there is also an orientation requirement for all prospective volunteers at the shelter.

In addition to volunteering, contributions of cash and supplies are also welcome. For instance, the Lakes Area Parrot Heads recently donated over $10,000 to the shelter — the proceeds from two fundraising events, Macaws for Paws and Boats & Bars, which were held back-to-back on Aug. 27-28.

The Lakes Area Parrot Heads recently presented a check for $10,123 to the Marshmallow Animal Shelter, representing the proceeds from two fundraisers for the shelter that were held back-to-back on Aug. 27-28. (Submitted photo)
The Lakes Area Parrot Heads recently presented a check for $10,123 to the Marshmallow Animal Shelter, representing the proceeds from two fundraisers for the shelter that were held back-to-back on Aug. 27-28. (Submitted photo)

The shelter is also planning to host a holiday open house on Saturday, Nov. 20, Skoyles said. The event will include a particularly popular fundraising activity, the "Pounds for the Pound" bake sale; goodies can either be pre-ordered through the shelter's Facebook page, or picked up during the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about the Marshmallow Animal Shelter, as well as its various volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, visit the web page at marshmallowfoundation.org.