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Animals move into new Mower County shelter

Ginny Riege of Austin prepares to transport a Mower County Humane Society resident to a new location on Friday in Austin. Riege began volunteering with the Humane Society after retiring from teaching high schoolers four years ago. "Dogs don't talk back," Riege laughed.

AUSTIN — The first thing seen turning down the road to the new Mower CountyHumane Society shelter in Austin is the yellow street sign stating"Dead End."

For the animals that travel down that road, theirdestination is anything but.

After an open house Aug. 23 and 24,volunteers and organizers moved about 130 cats to the newshelter for what they hope is a temporary stay on the way to a foreverhome.

"We moved them all Sunday (Aug. 25) morning," said Jane Roden, MCHS vicepresident. "We had all sorts of individual carry cases."

Roden said the move was made for the felines after the openhouse to curb as much trauma as they could. Going from oneenvironment to another already can be jarring enough, even if theanimals are getting an upgrade of all new space and equipment.


"For some, this move has been very traumatic," said Roden, adding manyvolunteers have been spending a lot of time with the skittish kittens,petting and hand feeding them.

For cats who don't seem too affected by the move, they're getting usedto the new shelter and more space. There are 10 rooms, calledpods, which hold eight cages. The pods are divided in half andsurround a larger area that also has cages and serves as a playground for cats to mill around, play and lounge.

Just off the common area is a door to an outside space of concretethat soon will be screened in for an outdoor play area that has beendubbed the Catio. Not to be outdone in the pun category, there isalso a room for medical treatment being called the in-fur-mary.

The dog side of the shelter is set up fairly the same as the cat side,at least in principle.

"There are three rooms, with six kennels each," said Teri Zimmerman,who has volunteered at MCHS for 20 years. Each kennel has two parts —one where the dogs have a fold-down bed and will eat, the other facingthe public for viewing. There is also a room for smaller dogs with

four kennels. One thing the new shelter has is a place to bathe thecanines.

"Now, we actually have a tub," said Zimmerman.

The running area for the dogs is much larger than before, but grassmay not be ready for the animals until next spring. Off to the sideof the building isa door that could connect directly to a proposed city pound, if it's built.


Other key features of the new shelter include meet-and-greet rooms forpotential adopters and adoptees, isolation rooms for animals who arenew or sick, air conditioning, radiant heat flooring and an airexchange system bringing fresh air inside the building at all times.

As nice as it sounds, volunteers would be happier for the animals not to experience the new shelter. Zimmerman noted there are already somedogs that would not be making the move, and she was OK with that.

"Three dogs will not be going," Zimmerman said Thursday. "One wasadopted today."

Another dog was picked up the afternoon of Aug. 23 before the canines werescheduled to be moved later in the day.

The new shelter will have the same visiting hours Tuesdays 4:30 p.m.to 6 p.m. and Sundays 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The new location is 10122nd St. S.E., south of the Austin Municipal Airport.

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From left, Dennis Sippel, Ginny Riege and Marilyn Flack transport a dog to the new Mower County Humane Society location on Friday in Austin. "It's about time. I've been volunteering with these guys for twelve years and this building is falling apart," said Sippel. The new building is located at 101 22nd St SE in Austin.

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