'We're the tortoise, not the hare'
St. Croix Animal Friends has owned land debt-free since the fall of 2010 near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Hwy. 65 in Roberts, but building an animal shelter on that land might still be a few years off, SCAF Secretary Vicki Donatell said.
"It takes a lot of money to build a facility and we know we can't do it with brat stands," Donatell said. "It takes greater resources than that."
SCAF owns 6.6 acres of land, which Donatell said is a large enough space that the whole site can be developed. SCAF wants to include a place for families to bring pets and enjoy nature, and a picnic area. They hope to be able to run educational programs in their community room, and they hope to build an amphitheater where they can hold dog and animal shows.
"A shelter can't sustain itself just on the proceeds brought in from finding a home for a dog or cat," said Diana Neubarth, SCAF president. "You have to have other things in place to be bringing in funds."
Neubarth said SCAF has been fundraising all along, and attempting to save money as well, but gathering the funds for the new shelter is likely going to take a capital campaign. However, Neubarth said, the real capital campaign won't begin until after plans for the shelter are complete.
"It can't be a dream, it has to be based in reality," Neubarth said. "We're serious about this plan working."
Which is why, Neubarth said, the plan is taking a while to complete.
Neubarth said SCAF plans to continue fundraising while the strategic plan is in the works.
"We're constantly out there doing something, whether it's making an appearance somewhere, or doing a fundraiser," Neubarth said. "We're always on the move."
Donatell said SCAF is taking part in the St. Croix Casino trip, which picks up in Hudson and New Richmond on Oct. 7. SCAF is also fundraising with Pies for Pets through Perkins. Donatell said Pies for Pets was like selling Girl Scout Cookies. People order pies through SCAF and are then able to pick up their own Pies at Perkins (Hudson) in time for Thanksgiving.
"They've been wonderful to work with," Donatell said.
And, although it's not a fundraiser, Donatell and Neubarth said SCAF will be at the Sept. 30 Petapalooza in Roberts.
Neubarth said it is important to build a shelter because there are a lot of stray animals that need homes, and there are few options for shelters in the area.
"I think that it's the responsibility of the community to take care of what's out there in their own backyard," Neubarth said.
Neubarth said animals now get sent to shelters in Eau Claire or the Twin Cities. The problem is these shelters are filling up quickly, and Neubarth said they may soon have to stop taking animals from outside of their own city or county. And Neubarth said many people don't realize this is even going on, thanks to good animal control.
For those who are waiting for the shelter to be built, Neubarth said it will take a while.
"I think the key is for people to have patience," Neubarth said. "Nobody wants a shelter built quicker than the SCAF board."
The other thing Neubarth and Donatell said SCAF is seeking, other than funds for their shelter, is volunteers to foster pets. SCAF lately has been unable to take in stray animals, because it needs volunteers to foster the pets and take care of them.
Donatell said SCAF also does other programs for more immediate action while they raise the funds for the shelter, working with CatTown Rescue's trap and neuter program, and offering assistance to people who need financial assistance because their pets have medical emergencies, or because they are having trouble feeding their pet.
"Rather than have them surrender their pet because they can't take care of it," Neubarth said, "we like to step in and help them feed the pet and take care of it until they get back on their feet."
SCAF will be at the St. Croix Petapalooza on Sept. 30 at the Warrant Township Park in Roberts. To learn more visit www.scafshelter.org.