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By Patrice Bedford

Over the last two decades, Luce County Pet Pals, Inc.’s mission was the creation of a much-needed animal shelter for Luce County. What began as a dream for some turned into a reality for all of us last year, when the shelter building was completed and we began operations. Pet Pals created a functioning shelter: we temporarily housed lost pets to be reunited with their owners and successfully placed 58 pets into loving homes. In August 2020, we received support from the voters of Luce County with the millage vote to officially turn the shelter into a county operation. This February, Luce County formed its own Luce County Animal Shelter Board of Directors, instated Gloria Caswell as shelter manager, and with that, the major mission of Luce County Pet Pals, Inc. was accomplished!

During this period of transition, Pet Pals had several meetings to discuss our next steps and establish the new direction for our organization. The group’s members see a need to help low-income pet owners and to continue to reduce the number of unwanted animals in the community. Collectively, we have agreed upon a new mission statement:

Luce County Pet Pals, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of homeless animals and household pets for the greater benefit of both the animals and our community members. LCPP strives to support pet owners and strays in the local community by providing a robust array of resources to meet the needs of pets and homeless animals, including financial assistance for veterinary expenses and pet supplies, the promotion of community involvement and awareness through outreach and education efforts, and additional support for unanticipated needs of the Luce County Animal Shelter.

Our new goals focus on the following areas for pets and pet lovers in our county:

  1. Spay/Neuter and Emergency Vet Care Assistance – to provide financial support to low-income folks who need help paying for veterinary services.
  2. Pet Food Assistance – to establish a Pet Food Pantry where folks can pick up the food they need for their pets and to deliver pet food for the kind-hearted community feeders who provide food and shelter to unwanted animals, usually cats and kittens, that are dropped off in their yards.
  3. Microchipping Clinics – to more efficiently reunite pet owners with lost pets and provide peace-of-mind to pet owners.
  4. Trap, Neuter, and Release – to help control the feral cat population in our county.
  5. Fundraising – to provide the funding for all of these programs and future projects to serve the community.
  6. Shelter Support – to continue recruitment efforts for shelter volunteers, promote available pets for adoption, and to support the shelter with possible unanticipated needs.

We are actively seeking new members of Pet Pals to help us with these prospects. Several committees have already been formed with funds allocated to them to begin offering these services to our community. If you are interested in joining us to help advocate for and assist animals in need, we would love to have you join us at our next meeting on April 28th at 6:30PM at the Link! If you are interested in membership, contact us at lucepetpals@gmail.com.

The Luce County Animal Shelter is a piece of Pet Pals history that many of us will forever hold dear. Hundreds of individuals in this community turned an empty lot into an incredible building which is now a place where animals have gotten their biggest wish: a loving home. We’re grateful to all Pet Pals members, past and present, for everything they’ve done. We also wish Luce County the very best in this endeavor, and hope they will lead the shelter with love and compassion for animals above all else.