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Hi-Line Living: Caring for the animals

 

April 13, 2018

Ryan Welch/Havre Daily News

If you have been out to Havre Animal Shelter, called about a stray animal or seen the man in the blue "Havre Animal Control" shirt, you have probably met Pete Federspiel; the man with the big smile and a passion for helping the Havre community animals.

Federspiel took over the shelter in May of 2016 and since then has been a sort of one-man show when it comes to taking care of the Animal Shelter. Federspiel is not only the Animal Control Officer but during the weekdays is the only employee at the shelter. He said on the weekends, though, he does have two part-time employees who come in and clean.

Federspiel said the shelter "has been open since about the '70s, maybe older than that." He added that though the shelter has only been open about 40-50 years, "there has been an ordinance with an animal control officer since the 1920s."

Federspiel said he decided to take over the shelter when he reached 20 years as a deputy. Deputies are able to retire after 20 years on the force, he said.

"When I hit my 20-year mark," he said he thought, "I will start looking for something else to do."

"The position came open," Federspiel said, "I applied and here I am."

The shelter can take 13 cats and 8 dogs at a time, Federspiel said. If needed, puppies can be put in a kennel together, he added, or in emergencies they can also keep some dogs out back. He said that the average amount of time they house animals is seven days for dogs and 45 days for cats.

Federspiel said the shelter only uses euthanization as a last resort.

"As long as there is room," he said, "we won't put animals down." He added that the only exception to this is if the animal is vicious or very ill.

The shelter primarily tries to only take in cats and dogs but there have been a few exceptions. One time they took in some stray tortoises that were found on the side of the road, and they have also taken in rabbits at times. The shelter tries not to take in too many rabbits, though, he said, because of space.

Federspiel said the shelter is always looking for people or families to adopt animals. The process is pretty simple. The person who would like to adopt an animal can come in and pick an animal, Federspiel said.

"We have a few questions that we need to ask," Federspiel said, such as if the landlord of their apartment or house allows animals. He added that it is important they make sure the adopter has "a fenced-in yard or some way of keeping the animal contained."

The adopter will then sign an adoption agreement. After this, they pay the adoption fee, which is $5 for feral cats going to farms, $50 for cats, and $95 for dogs. The Havre Animal Shelter website also says that animals which have been previously spayed or neutered are offered at a discounted price.

Federspiel said that at this time there is nothing particular that they are looking for in adoptive families but the shelter is hoping to eventually get an application put in place that can screen prospective adopters.

The shelter not only has their own webpage, which features information on fees, stray animals and animals up for adoption, but they also have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Havre-Animal-Shelter-991142817601515, that Federspiel updates regularly.

"It (Facebook) is an important resource for the shelter," He added.

Federspiel said it is especially beneficial for owners who have pets that accidently escaped and were picked up by Animal Control.

"Animals can easily be picked up within a few hours (after seen on Facebook)," he added.

Federspiel said that he likes to post pictures of the animals on the website but there are certain situations where he will not post pictures. He said he will not post pictures of feral cats up on the site because, he said, he found it may be upsetting to some residents who do not want to see feral cats become barn cats as opposed to house cats.

He added that he does not post pictures of stray animals getting adopted because it may cause conflict if the original family sees the post and wants the animal back.

Federspiel said that some people do not come back to pick up their stray animals right away because of the costs, which is $20 a day impound fees, or they are afraid they might get a ticket, he said, because they were not keeping the animal in the right conditions.

Federspiel said that people have five days to pick up their pet before the animal can be adopted out.

Along with running the shelter, Federspiel is also the Havre Animal Control Officer. He said this part of his job entails him investigating cruelty to animals, animals at large and handling city animal ordinances. He added that he doesn't "actively go out and look for unregistered animals," but if they do find one, he said, he handles that.

Federspiel said he encourages community members to call the Animal Shelter or the Havre City Police Department if they see an animal being mistreated or in danger. He said that people may be worried if they call about possible animal cruelty and don't personally see anything being done, but Federspiel said he encourages these community members not to be discouraged because Animal Control does check out every call they receive.

As far as donations, Federspiel said, they "haven't been actively pursuing donations." He said the reason they don't pursue the donations, is because if the donation sum is not a large enough amount of money, it goes in with the general city fund. Federspiel added that larger sums are welcome because they will be designated to the shelter.

Ryan Welch/Havre Daily News

He is hoping, he said, that they will be able to ask for donations in the future since he has submitted the paperwork for the shelter to become a non-profit organization.

The shelter is happy to take other kinds of donations, such as towels. They are currently gathering towels for the upcoming spay/neuter clinic, June 30-July 1, put on by Spay Montana.

Federspiel said if he could ask the Havre community anything it would be to spay and neuter their pets as well as stay up-to-date with vaccinations. He said that he has seen animals get very sick or die from illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper.

"Spay, neuter, and shots is the biggest thing," Federspiel said.

 

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