“You can see her, but you can’t fall in love with her” Duluth resident Debbie Miller joked as she walked out of the Animal Allies animal shelter carrying a big eyed (and bigger eared) white and brown fluff of fur snuggled comfortably against her neck.
On Monday March 24, staff and volunteers at the shelter were all smiles as they watched their efforts to find animals loving homes pay off once again as the one-year-old chihuahua, Elsa, joined a family and entered a new home.
“It’s bittersweet,” adoption counselor Jennie Connolly said about watching animals leave. “I get sad to to see them go, but happy to know they are going to a caring family who will give them the attention they deserve.”
With veterinarians to treat any animals in need, the ability to house up to 100 cats and 70 dogs, and designated rooms for adopters to interact with animals, Animal Allies successfully facilitates the adoption of around 130 surrendered and stray animals every month.
Before she came to the shelter, Elsa’s journey began at the Duluth Animal shelter in West Duluth where strays are turned in.
“When I saw her there it was love at first sight,” Miller said with a smile, “then we followed her up here to adopt her.”
Miller adopted Elsa for her parents whose poodle just recently passed away.
“They need their dog fix and someone to spoil,” Miller said.
Betsy Bode, the adoption program manager for Animal Allies, said that most people who come to find a pet are in search for companionship.
“I've had at least one dog most of my life and couldn't imagine my house without them. Although they come with a lot of responsibility, animals also enrich our lives in many ways,” Bode said.
As part of her role as an adoption counselor, Connolly makes name tags with descriptions of the animals temperament and special needs for all of the dogs and cats at the center. She also gives potential adopters surveys to fill out and reflect on what they are looking for in a pet and works with them to find a dog or cat that will fit best with their family.
“Taking on a pet is a big commitment; it’s important people find the right match for them,” Connolly said.
“Some people walk in, have an instant bond with an animal and adopt that same day. Others visit often, meeting regularly with an animal before making their decision,” Bode noted.
Volunteer Kate Scott waited 3 months before deciding to adopt her cat, Hattie. Every time she came to the shelter, the timid black cat would be hidden in her cloth nest.
“She seemed special needs to me and I knew I was calm and could work with her. I just had to give her a little love and be patient,” Scott said.
Scott has had Hattie for 7 weeks and said she held her for the first time a few days ago.
“I was so happy I called my sister and told her,” Scott laughed.
To Bode, relationships such as Hattie and Scott’s is what makes adopting an animal so special to people.
“People are motivated by compassion and the desire to save an animal they feel a connection to, needs a home and seems to be a good fit for their household,” Bode said.
“For some people the idea of animals in a shelter is depressing, but really I think the mood is hopeful; they are waiting in decent conditions for the right people to come take them home,” Scott said.
And as Debbie Miller and Elsa walked through the doors and headed home, neither of them looked the least bit depressed.