HELENA — While the pandemic has put a halt to a lot of aspects of our daily lives, the number of homeless animals coming into the Lewis and Clark Humane Society (LCHS) hasn’t slowed down at all.
LCHS, like many organizations, say the past six months haven’t been easy while they’ve clawed their way through the pandemic.
“Things have been hard through COVID and especially stressful,” said Executive Director Kelsee Dalton Watts. “I think we’re feeling it just like everyone in the community is feeling it, but the one thing that has remained certain is these animals need our help.”
The non-profit animal shelter has already seen more than 900 animals come through their doors this year, with kitten season being particularly hard this year.
“We’ve had a lot of kittens this year, a lot more than we expected,” said LCHS Cat Coordinator Katie Axline-Pittman. “It seems like when it rains it pours. We had a lot of cats that were injured and required medical needs when we were closed down.”
The shelter has seen a number of animals needing costly medical care. Recently a kitten named Tortuga came in with a badly infected eye that ultimately needed to be removed.
LCHS depends on fund-raising to care for the animals under their protection. While the number of animals coming in has remained steady, the number of dollars coming in has not.
Fund-raising efforts for all non-profits have been greatly impacted by COVID, with most flat out canceling their in person events.
The shelter was no different, having to push off their big event the “Spay-ghetti Dinner” for half a year.
“It’s definitely provided some concerns for the Humane Society,” said Dalton. “That funding is crucial to what we do everyday here and not being able to do it the way we’re accustomed to leaves a lot of things unknown and it’s scary.”
While LCHS did receive a $10,000 grant from the state, it doesn’t compare to donations they would have received otherwise from the live auction fundraiser.
To make up for the lost event, LCHS will be holding a digital fund raising event called “Stay-ghetti” from Sep. 22-25. Items will be cautioned off those days, with a virtual celebration on Sep. 25 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Shelter staff say they honestly don’t know what the turn out will be, and pandemic has been an economic hardship for many.
“We’re doing everything we can to stretch every single dollar as far as we can to give our animals what they need,” said Dalton.
If LCHS were to stop receiving funding to the point where the shelter was forced to close, there would be 1,600 animals a year that would have no place to go. No one to take care of them. No connection to another family if things weren’t working out in their current home.
“It would be devastating for the cats and dogs in our care, and any animal that might need us in the future,” said Dalton. “The work that we do is so important because these guys have nobody else. If the Humane Society wasn’t here our community would face a crisis.”
More information about how to support LCHS and animals currently available for adoption at the shelter can be found here.