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AUSTIN EDITION - COL Fund-raisers give shelter a little extra in the kitty

The two first months of 2004 have truly been hectic on all fronts, including the Mower County Humane Society.

Pets come and go before we can give accurate account of the turnover. Twenty-two dogs and 10 to 12 cats were adopted in January. February lagged behind in that department, but the fund-raiser spaghetti supper and silent auction proved to be a great success. The turnout was overwhelming as people, not only from Austin and surrounding towns, but also from other counties, came to support the Friends in Need shelter. A big thank you goes out to all individuals and businesses that donated goods, food, music and hours of work before, during and after the event. Julie Murphy also deserves honorable mention for her extra efforts.

Thanks also for helping our cause with donations, ticket purchase and bids at the silent auction. This helped make the "Howlin' Good Time" a record fund-raiser for the Mower County Humane Society. Together, you helped us raise an estimated $5,300 plus what still is coming, which could bring the number up a couple of hundred dollars.

The kennels are filled to capacity again. The majority of dogs are labrador retrievers of different ages. Our goal is to aid and educate the pet-owning population in proper care and training, pest and decease control and pet reproduction control. Altering (spaying and neutering) cats and dogs is the Humane Society's second concern for a newly received animal; the first one is a health check by the vet. Getting a pet from Friends in Need gives a new owner the best possible chance for a healthy animal, as we don't turn them over if sick or ill mannered. In return, we do our best to match pet and owner in hopes the human partner will give the animal a good and loving home.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes will soon become active, and pet owners need to take precautionary action to protect their four-legged friends from harm. A visit to the vet will determine what a particular cat, dog or other kind of animal needs to keep comfortable and well through the warm season. Do take time for this relatively inexpensive visit, and in the long run save on both worry and greater costs to cure something that could have been prevented. Spay, neuter, vaccinate and follow up.

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Let's not forget the leash ordinance, which is there to protect people and animals alike. Too many runaway pets get lost for good, either because of accidents or lack of collar with proper identification.

How grateful we are for every person who volunteers at the Friends in Need. New faces have shown up to get a scoop (literally) of what the work entails, then joined in to give the original volunteers a break and time to take care of their own family affairs. One day there were 11 vehicles parked by the shelter, and at least as many people inside, cleaning the cat rooms.

February Junior Volunteer is Julia Wagner, a 6th-grader at Ellis. She likes dogs, and she enjoys doing everything she can to help, even cleaning the dog bays. Although she has a dog at home, she likes coming to the shelter to walk and play with the dogs. Her other favorite things are music and athletics. She plays flute and is involved with volleyball and track.

The Friends in Need Shelter is located at 1010, 10th Drive S.E., Austin. Hours for the open house are 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays. Phone: (507) 437-9262.

Nini Johnson is a volunteer at the Mower County Humane Society.

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