By Jared Ritz
The Havre animal shelter is overloaded with work, and is looking for volunteers to help out.
The shelter has only one full-time employee, Gordon Inabnit. Inabnit has been the animal control officer for 11 years, and says that nearly 300 animals come through the shelter each year.
His main duty of providing animal control around the city suffers because of the amount of time he needs to be present at the shelter.
"Gordon does as much as he can," said Fran Buell, a local professional dog trainer, "but he is only one person."
Buell, a member of the Havre Shelter Advisory Committee, said the main problem with the shelter is the shortage of public access to the shelter and the animals there. The shelter needs to be open more hours, she added.
"There has been a general feeling in the community that someone needs to be up there," she said.
Assistant Police Chief Mark Stolen said the city would like to have a second paid position at the shelter but lacks funds.
He and Inabnit think that having volunteers would allow more patrol time for Inabnit.
"We get along," said Inabnit. "It's just going to free up more time for patrol instead of shelter."
Applications are available at the Havre Police Department for volunteer positions to help with many jobs around the shelter.
The main duties of volunteers would be cleaning the shelter and feeding the animals, as well as simply being there so the public can come and view the animals.
Most animal viewings are now made by appointment with Inabnit, which cuts down the amount of time someone can look at them. That means fewer animals are adopted.
Stolen said one person volunteering no more than six or eight hours a month would be ideal.
Stolen said the positions need to be filled by people who love animals, but they also need to be able to accept that some animals will be euthanized.
"It's a fact of life," he said. "We gotta do it."
Anyone who is interested may stop by the Havre Police Department and pick up an application. The animal shelter is at 1201 County Road 652 West.