Welcome! Here is what we call the Farmington Pet Adoption Center. My name is Jayne Wibbels. I began here as a director and since then I have stepped down to the volunteer position. Now that I am a volunteer, I am able to spend more time with the animals. The Farmington Pet Adoption Center is a no kill shelter. It used to be called the Humane Society of the Ozarks for years, and that was a big misnomer because the Humane Society of the United States is a very big organization. This place never was a part of that organization, and probably shouldn't have been called that. When we took over management three years ago, we changed the name to get more people in this area to realize that we are a little locally owned and operated animal shelter. We don't get any funding from the city, state, or the country. The only way we make it happen for these animals is our thrift store sales, generous donations from citizens in the community, or the fee that is required when adopting or bringing in an animal. The way our thrift store operates is that if you have old clothes or items you don't want anymore, you can bring them here. We will go through them, put a price tag on them, and put them out in the store to sell. Buying used clothes can be a fun activity. You can buy name brand clothes cheap, and that is what we do here.
This is what happens if someone finds a stray animal. They will call us and tell us that they found a stray animal in the ditch or wherever they found it and ask us if they can bring it in. We'll tell them whether we do have space or we don't, and hopefully we do. If they bring in the animal, we ask them to fill out the surrender form because we do get inspected by the Department of Agriculture. They want to know where each and every animal came from so that they know we're not going around stealing other people's animals. Because of that, we have to make sure that we have a record of where all of our animals came from. Then we will ask them to pay a surrender fee, because we will have to quarantine the animal for a couple of weeks, make sure it's healthy, check its stool, get it vaccinated, get it fixed, and then we're going to get it back up for adoption. All of that cost us money so we ask that when people bring in an animal that they attempt to give a donation to help us out. We can't afford to do it all ourselves.
When people come in to adopt an animal, we take them around and show them our selection. Then when they choose an animal, they will fill out an adoption form and pay the adoption fee that is required. We have to charge for the animal because it costs us money, and we also want people to realize there is no such thing as a free animal. We believe if you put a value on your animal that there is a better chance of you taking care of it.
Like I said, we took over management of this place about three years ago for numerous reasons. Just because it needed to be done. We just came in and really cleaned this place up. We have volunteers that run this thrift store. They work every day of the week to put things out, make sure things are organized and priced correctly. If your thrift store is not run properly you're not going to maximize your sales and you're not going to have enough money in the bank to take care of the animals. So it is very important to know that there are volunteers that run this store completely. And they are all elderly believe it or not. Your parents and your grandparents are some of the hardest working generations and they are what do this. So that is what we do here. Like I said its all just organized by volunteers and these are things that you kids may have pulled out of your closet to donate. We have a lot of brand new items. People can come right in and by your item and think the world of it. So that is where we make our money.
It really can depend. We make anywhere from $200.00 to $400.00 a day in here. That's not everyday though. Around Christmas we may make a little bit more, but keep in mind we have four employees here. There are two in the cat area and two in the dog area. Our bills every month here run between $6,000 and $10,000. We have to pay employees, buy food for the animals. We buy food at a reduced shelter rate, which is a great thing. We still have to pay insurance on the building, pay our taxes, and other things. It costs a lot just to run a place like this. So $200.00 a day may seem like a lot from the thrift store but we may not get that everyday. Like the other day when it was so cold we were open for three hours and had made ten dollars. So we decided its best to go ahead and shut down because it was costing more to have the employees here than we are making in the thrift store. A lot of times, we have to make those kind of decisions. Overall this is one of the nicest thrift stores in Farmington. It wasn't always that way. There is a lot of expenses that many people don't recognize, and a lot of costs that you kids probably don't know about that we have to take care of. We have to come up with those thousands of dollars every month just to keep us going. Then if you divide our cost by how many animals we have here, you could say that estimated each animal cost about $50.00 dollars a month to take care of. Then if you add in what our employers make, all the cleansing supplies we buy, the food and water for the animals, and our heating bill, it really adds up. When we took over management we really did our best to clean this place up to what you see today. We really have come a far way. We knew that when we came in and took over that this place needed some major TLC (tender, love, care.) We needed a group of employees and volunteers that really cared, and that is what we have now. There are such dedicated people here that are working everyday of the week. A few years ago, a lot of people just stopped coming here. Now they're starting to realize that they should come back down here again because it is being run by people who really care about the facility. Our items are being treated with respect. What happens is people bring in donations. We help them get them out of their car, and bring them to the back of our store, where we have volunteers that price and tag items. Some people will bring really nice stuff, and some people will just bring whatever they don't want anymore, but we have to treat all the donations with respect because we know that the people had good intentions just bringing their unwanted items here. It's all about making as much money as we can so we can support the animals. This is a business where you have to take the bad with the good. That right there is life in general. We are just very thankful that people want to bring their stuff here and shop period because this is the place that supports abandoned animals in this area. So the thrift store is our main support for the animals. Every dollar made their goes towards the shelter one hundred percent. Some of the items we receive are not exactly in condition to sell, but we don't just throw them in the dumpster. We have a company from St. Louis that will come down and recycle all that. We also recycle all our cardboard and aluminum cans we receive. So we are very conscious about being conservative as opposed to just throwing things away. It's not the kind of mindset you can have when you are at a place like this. We have to show people's donations the utmost respect.
Okay, to get started. We have two healthy cat rooms. One of them houses mature adult cats, and the other keeps younger cats. We also have an isolation room for cats that are on medication. Then we have the quarantine room for new cats and kittens that come in before they have seen a vet. We have a few cats that are able to roam around in the hallways of the cat area, like Brett. He's one of our super friendly cats. We've had him since he was a kitten. We bottle fed him. He is just absolutely precious. All these cats are up for adoption. It is a miracle that you can even adopt an animal in an area like this is because there are so many people who already have a pet, I bet everyone of you have a pet. Very few people will go out and seek an animal because one may just show up on their door step, which is a sad commentary on our society. That is why it is so important to get an animal fixed. All of the dumping animals and letting them run around is truly ridiculous. Until our animals do get adopted, they are very comfortable and happy here. By the way, we do adopt animals out of here quite steadily all the time. When I was the director, we adopted somewhere between thirty to thirty five animals a month. We're only open twenty days a month, so you can see that is quite a bit for a month. I mean, everyday an animal was going out of here to a good home, hopefully. If you see our animals, you can observe how content they are during their time here with us. When we get them we can guarantee they are going to be seen by a vet immediately, the cats will be checked for two communicable diseases, vaccinated, wormed, fixed, and then they will be socialized and put up for adoption. They are completely healthy and happy. Look how happy these cats are. We wash the cat blankets everyday and give them a clean food and water bowl everyday. They are not wanting for anything, and that's the way we like it. All of our cats do a wonderful job of getting along, but they just need a good home and somebody to take care of them. We have had little kittens brought to us who have lost their mama, and we've had to take them here and bottle feed them. It is truly a lot of work taking care of the animals here. It really is, and it takes a completely dedicated team of employees and volunteers. Believe me. Sometimes we'll work all day here, take an animal home, feed them throughout the night. It's a lot of work.
This is our dog area. It's just like your yard at home. It doesn't look great in the winter, but in the summer it's actually quite nice around here. In some of our cages there are little heat lamps to make sure the puppies stay warm. Like I said already remember that when we took over management of this place it didn't look like this and basically we built all the kennels and all of the shelters back here because the former operators had a few dogs indoors and a few mean ones outdoors so we had to take them and give them a home that way we could house more but out here they've got shelter. They've got fresh food and water everyday, generally every one of our dogs has a buddy with them so that they can wrestle and play and have fun. People will come out here to look out them and adopt them. Anyway the dogs do get steadily adopted. People do not dump bad dogs on the side of the road. They actually dump quite fine dogs on the side of the road. It's the silliest thing we've ever heard of, and we just don't understand perfectly why people dump perfectly fine animals on the side of the road. I don't understand how people can do it, but that is what happens. We have a new group of puppies that were recently brought to us. They were all found on the side of the road because someone who dumped them was not too bright, not too nice and they ended up making their way to us. If you wanted to adopt an animal you must be eighteen for insurance purposes.
On the inside of our dog area we just started insulating in there. There was no insulation before, and it was something we felt that was needed for the dogs. We're getting the insulation donated from such generous people. We're getting tin for the roof donated. We also have a new heater that was donated. Now the dogs that have short hair can come inside during the winter and have a nice place to be in where it is nice and warm. Because when it gets cold a dog needs to get a pretty good coat on them. Believe it or not a lot of dogs actually like being outside in this weather. They have those thick coats and that thick skin and they just love this cold winter weather. Dogs with little short hair we want to make sure we get them inside where they are nice and warm. A place where they have a heater and everything. That is how we operate with our dogs. We probably keep anywhere from fifty to sixty dogs here at any given time. There was even a time where we had almost ninety dogs here. When I was in charge we had a lot of dogs here. Right now probably have about fifty dogs at an accurate estimate. It's a lot of work. It's maybe sometimes one person out here one day cleaning up all the feces, passing out all the medications, making sure they have fresh food and fresh water, making sure they have straw in their houses. This is a place that you work at because you want to, not because you are looking for a paycheck. This is a place you come because you love animals. So all these animals deserve a life other than on the side of the road.
A great plus to our company is that we have our volunteer, Bob, who helps us with walking the dogs. Which is great! Bob is just a super, such a super volunteer! Like I said when we took over management of this place it was pretty much a nightmare. It was pretty disgusting and deplorable all of us were very scared, and had no idea what the future held for us here with the new staff and volunteers at the Pet Adoption Center. And that's all we've done is clean and try to make this place as good as can be. Well we inherited a really terrible septic system.
We had to finally confront that problem head on and it was bad timing because this place never has any extra money much less $25,000 other extra dollars. By letting the community know that we needed money, and that we had a situation we had to address with our septic system. See, we have to have a working septic system here. Whenever we wash the kennels, the running water has to have a place to run down to. And we were running into that problem because it never really was done properly here. So we've had some skilled people from the community help us and put this working septic system together. We've had people donate money and we've been putting that into a fund so we get get a brand new septic system and drain field in the next few months. God bless everyone that is helping us. We are going to continue to move forward, but the bottom line is, kids, animals are just not shoes that you can throw away. They got a long life to live, and we want to give them a good life to live. Everybody should feel that way. It's crazy. Who could mistreat a poor, innocent animal? What is that saying about yourself if you mistreat an animal? It's bad...very bad. That's why we, all the people associated with the Farmington Pet Adoption Center, are here. We're here to give animals a better life. We hope that you guys maybe one day can get involved in animal care. It's upsetting to see these animals, and we do it everyday. It never gets better. This animal problem will never go away unless people like you and the next generation of people realize that we have to stop this issue and do better. All animals should be fixed, taken care of, and be able to live warm, safe, and healthy lives. There is no reason for animals to be running around having so many offspring in such short time spans. It's miserable for them. Dogs reproduce way more than we, as humans, do. The family tree of an animal is way bigger than any humans family tree. If you want another dog or animal, it would be better to go adopt one than to try to breed your own. Always encourage other people to get their animals fixed so we can help this issue of overpopulated abandoned animals. Our goal here is to go out of business. Most businesses goal's are to thrive and grow. We don't want want to do that. I hope that someday I'm out looking for another job. I don't want to have to work at a job helping suffering animals. I want to work somewhere else knowing that there are no more suffering animals. I would rather know that we didn't even have to have places like this in our country but they are everywhere. But there are places in the city that are not fortunate enough to have a thrift store attached to them, and have to euthanize animals. Not that they want to, but they have to. That is why it's so important that people fix their animals, and even go rescue another one out of a shelter. It is just that simple. Some people do think that we are associated with the pound, but no, we are not. We are a free standing nonprofit organization. Your pounds generally are an extension of your police department or your city of Farmington City of Park Hills, City of Desloge, Fredricktown, or Bonne Terre, all these cities generally have a dog pound. Somebody gets a phone call about an animal running around that doesn't belong to anybody and they are asked to come get it. So they will hop in their truck, go get it, bring it to their facility, or wherever around here. God bless them too because they are doing the best they can. And then they will try to put the animal on a website. What they do is that they will try to house them and make sure within a couple of weeks no one comes to claim it because it could be a lost dog. But if no one comes to claim it they try to put them up for adoption. Unfortunately their resources are very slim, and after a couple of weeks or even a couple of months if it is a really special animal they'll try to keep it as long as they can. If nobody comes to adopt it, they have to euthanize them. That's how sad it is. And it's not the dog's fault. What did it do wrong? It just wasn't properly cared for.
Establishment of the Pet Adoption Center:
Farmington Pet Adoption Center was officially established in March of 2008. This building, which was used as a previous shelter, has been here for a long time, but they did not operate at all like we do now. It was not the same. That is why we came in here and took over. Since then, I am proud to say that we have been doing everything we can to make this place the best it can be. It is a nonprofit organization which means you, the public, own this place as much as I do. We all should care. I will say that the problem of animal abandonment in this area is huge. I didn't even begin to touch on it. It's ridiculous, and we've got to get it under control. Tell everybody to stop letting your dog or cat get pregnant. Tell them that by doing that they are part of the problem. If you see somebody out there with a dog on a chain in the heat of summer or no protection in the cold of winter without food or water tell somebody. This is absurd. Don't be afraid. Step up! Don't turn a blind eye. Be bold. It's just that simple. Alright kids.
The biggest thing that the community can do to help us is to constantly remind people how bad the abandoned animal problem is and to take care of their own pet. If people don't take care of their own pet, the animals suffer, and sometimes they end up here. For you guys just to raise awareness about animal welfare is the most helpful thing you guys can do.
When it comes to donations here we prefer money. When it comes to food we purchase dry dog and cat food through a shelter program. They sell it to us at a discounted cost. There are a few reasons why it is easier for us to get out own food is because all of our animals are so used to eating the same thing everyday. We don't want to switch up their diets. Another reason is so that we don't ever have a shortage of food or an over abundance of food. So it is very crucial that we just buy our own food, and they deliver it to us every two weeks. It works out great. We can always use money through fundraiser because we will put that straight in the bank and it will immediately go towards bills. We do a lot of cleaning here, and could always use cleaning supplies. Everyday of the week someone can donate something like that and we would be most grateful.
And that would be about it. It's just an ongoing situation. We wish this problem would go away, but as long as people are in charge of animals this problem is never going to go away. People have to think. They have to understand what harm they are doing to their animals. We have got to do better. Go talk to your peers, and tell them we can do better. Just take a stand. You are going to come across a lot of really rude people who think that animal abuse is funny, and it's not. That's when you're going to step up and tell them to knock it off. That's where I want you guys to make the biggest difference. We are always going to be fine here. We're always going to have employees, volunteers like myself. Where we need help is out in the real world where animals are suffering.
All images are property of St. Paul Lutheran School
St. Paul Lutheran School/Building Hope 4 a Better Future--Copyright 2011. All rights reserved