Roy, a border collie, is awaiting adoption at the county animal shelter. Visitors to today’s 14th Anual Holiday Open House at the shelter can meet Roy and some of the other animals who are looking for a forever home. (Andre Hale — contributed)
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The Humboldt County Animal Shelter will host its annual holiday open house fundraiser Saturday at the facility on Lycoming Avenue in McKinleyville from noon until 4 p.m.

The shelter holds the fundraiser each year to raise money for medical costs so they can treat injured or sick animals that are brought into the facility.

“Our overall goal is to raise money for the emergency medical fund because we regularly exceed the monthly amount budgeted for medical treatment,” said Andre Hale, animal control and facilities manager at the shelter. “Having this fund allows us to treat animals for skin conditions, broken bones, heartworm infections. We saved a couple of puppies with parvovirus when we would normally euthanize them and that treatment is costly. We had a kitten at the vet’s office with a broken leg that wouldn’t heal so it had to be amputated and we had to spend a lot of money.”

The shelter raises funds throughout the year to fund medical expenses and Hale said they have a group of people who are regular donors. The annual operating budget for the shelter is just under $1 million and the county budget provides for 12 staff positions.

Hale said they have three current openings: one for an animal control officer, along with two administrative positions. The shelter will hold a raffle and accept donations. She said at last year’s event the shelter raised more than $10,000 and she hopes to break that mark again this year.

“I would like to achieve that goal again this year,” Hale said. “We will work as hard as we can to get as much as we can because we have needs throughout the year. In addition to the raffle, we will offer refreshments, shelter tours and have the public meet an animal or two. It kind of gets overwhelming for them, so we tend to have visitors meet with staff who can give a better idea of the shelter’s needs.”

Hale said the shelter is near capacity. They have 50 dogs — capacity is 52 — and 37 cats currently available for adoption and there are always members of the community who go above and beyond in helping out.

“We have people who come every year and buy a $100 worth of tickets and they pass them out, usually to kids,” Hale said. “The big thing is is to keep raising money for the emergency fund. We have spent about $39,000 between January and October and that’s above the budgeted amount.”

Pickles the puppy, who has already found a forever home, is one of the dozens of animals at the county animal shelter. The shelter will host its annual fundraiser today from noon to 4 p.m. to raise money for the emergency medical fund. (Andre Hale — contributed)

The shelter plays a key role in public safety, particularly in an area where animal husbandry and agriculture plays such a large role.

The shelter brings in revenue from registration fees, fines and penalties and charges for service and it spends money on employee salaries, services, supplies and medical expenses. The county allocated just over $324,000 from the general fund for shelter operations in 2017-18, a number that’s expected to rise to $394,000 in 2019.

“Animal control is very important because when you have issues with out of control animals, those issues have a tendency to get worse,” said Lt. Ernie Stewart of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, who commands the administrative division. “We also get a lot of vicious animal complaints and we don’t have a leash law in Humboldt County. Animals must always be under the care and control of their owners but that’s a gray area. We deal with tons of animal complaints per day and this fundraiser is absolutely essential for the way we run the shelter.”

The shelter is run as a no-kill shelter and they don’t euthanize animals unless absolutely necessary. Those interested in helping can check the county’s website at https://humboldtgov.org/377/Animal-Control-Division.

If you go

What: Annual holiday open house

Where: Humboldt County Animal Shelter, 980 Lycoming Ave, McKinleyville

When: Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

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