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Mohawk Hudson Humane Society Launches '500 Pets Challenge'

The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society is trying to raise $50,000 by the end of July to support is animal care efforts.

The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in Menands, New York is crawling with pets – literally. As a trio of kittens pounce and toss their toys across a nearby desk, shelter Spokeswoman Marguerite Pearson says the Humane Society’s first official “500 Pets Challenge” aims to cover the costs of spaying, neutering, and vaccinating its residents.

Mohawk Hudson Humane Society
Credit Jacquelyn Orchard
Jacquelyn Orchard
Surprise! Three kittens currently call Outreach Coordinator Kathleen Farrell-Decker's office home.

“It can be anywhere from like, a couple hundred dollars to upwards of thousands of dollars for some of the animals that we’ve had to do specialized surgery or diagnostics or things like that," says Pearson. "We expect to care for 500 or more pets in July alone, so it’s to help bring in some donations to help keep these guys healthy and to get them into good homes.”

Pearson says the Humane Society took in more than 300 animals in June. She says the summer is usually busy, as “kitten season” brings litters of cats to the shelter’s door. But the summer is also the slowest period for shelter donations, and Pearson says that puts pressure on facilities that, like Mohawk Hudson, depend entirely on contributions to care for its intakes.    

“Of course we also microchip them, vaccinate them, deworm them, treat them for fleas/ear mites, anything else they might need," she adds. "So it does add up.”

The Humane Society moved into a new 32,000-square-foot facility in 2017. It also logged roughly 25,000 volunteer hours last year, and has vets on staff. Dr. Jane Farrell, who splits her time between the shelter and River Road Animal Hospital in Niskayuna, gave me an inside look at the spaying process.

“It’s a couple of stages: [they] get an injection, which will knock [them] out. It’s called an induction. Ultimately they’re intubated, so a breathing tube is placed, they’re hooked up to gas anesthesia," Farrell explains. "And then, for the female kitties we do total ovariohysterectomies – for the boy kitties we do just a neuter. The boy kitties do not need to go under gas, it’s a much simpler process.”

Mohawk Hudson Humane Society
Credit Jacquelyn Orchard / WAMC
Dr. Jane Farrell performs a quick kitten spay at Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

Farrell says she can handle a typical kitten spay in about 10 minutes. Even so, Pearson says each spay and neuter costs the shelter about $100 – hence the campaign’s slogan: “$100 for 500 pets.” As the Humane Society also hosts a number of behavioral programs, and maintains a food pantry for pet owners in-need, Pearson says it is always accepting pet supplies.

“We have an extensive wish list on our website, everything from food to towels, blankets, toys – there’s a whole list of things that people can give us, and we'll take gently used pet items as well," Pearson notes. 

The bright side: in addition to its 300-plus intakes, the shelter saw about 245 adoptions in June. Logistics Manager KC Campbell says it’s not unusual for some animals to come back, but most find their forever homes in about a couple weeks. She advises those looking to adopt to be patient with their new furry friends.

“So within three days, the owner is gonna fall in love with the animal. Within three weeks, the animal starts to trust the owner, and in three months you’re gonna see the true personality of that animal come out," Campbell explains. "Was that animal shy in its kennel, and three months later it’s bouncing off the wall and it’s full of joy? Or was it reverse – was that animal crazy in its kennel, and they find within three weeks that it’s calmed down because it trusts and it feels safe.”

Those looking to donate can do so directly on the Humane Society’s website, at their local Benson’s Pet Center, or by texting “500PETS” to 443-21. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society plans to close its challenge with a community celebration at its campus on August 4. 

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."
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