Local animal shelter recognized in national competition

Russell Edem | Collegian Glory, a 6-year-old Australian shepherd-poodle mix, enjoys a run around the backyard at the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter located at 605 Levee Drive.

Lining one wall of the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter are dozens of photos and stories of adoption. Many more animals, however, are waiting for homes.

Previous to 1988, the no-kill shelter was located in Manhattan’s Sunset Zoo before moving to its current location at 605 Levee Drive following a donation from Manhattan resident T. Russell Reitz. Since then, the shelter has expanded to accommodate 54 dog kennels and more than 60 cat cages. In 2010, the new Cattery Facility was opened to improve the mental and physical health of the shelter’s kittens and cats.

The Cattery Facility features designated rooms for adoption, a new arrival ward, a nursing kitten ward, and a treatment and evaluation room for cats. Each area is thoroughly cleaned to prevent diseases from spreading amongst the animals.

The shelter’s efforts to maintain the animals’ mental and physical health have not gone unnoticed. Recently, the
T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter was the only shelter in the state of Kansas selected for “50 Years 50 Shelters,” a program sponsored by Purina that supports cat-based shelters. The public submitted votes for their local shelters online and the winners received money and items to help improve their cat facilities.

The event ended on June 14. The T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter received $1,000 for being selected and another $1,000 for votes. The shelter also received cat pans, scratching posts and other items to help the cats. Sabrina Irwin, technician and volunteer coordinator, said the shelter is very thankful for those who voted and for Purina Cat Chow for choosing them to represent the state of Kansas.

Local tax dollars and donations from the local community assist the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter in providing care for the local community’s homeless animals. Businesses such as Candlewood Suites and Petco have donated monetary gifts and necessity items for the animals as well. The shelter relies on donations like these from the community to provide for animals ranging from dogs and cats to its more exotic animals. At one time, the shelter cared for an abandoned zebra.

“We can count on the community,” said Willie Davila, control director. “I’m never complacent about donations for the shelter. You always want to do the best.”

Davila, who graduated from the K-State College of Business Administration, became involved with the shelter after rescuing a cat. He is dedicated to educating the local community about the care of animals through community outreach programs.

Davila said that resources tend to diminish quickly because the animals are always in need of food and other necessities. Thus, the shelter is always in need of donations from the community. These include monetary gifts, toys, treats, towels, blankets and Purina Dog and Cat Chow.

An annual event called PetPoolooza also provides the opportunity for community members to help fund medications, medical treatments and specialty foods for the shelter, according to the official website. PetPoolooza 2013 will be held Sunday, Aug. 11 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at CiCo Park Pool. The event is free and open to the public.

Some of the employees have adopted from the shelter. Irwin adopted a Pekingese named Roland who is now the shelter’s ambassador. Brian Mulligan, animal shelter technician, said he had a great experience adopting his miniature Boxer named Annie from the shelter before joining the staff.

“I love seeing this side of it and being able to give the same experience that I had here gaining a new family member,” Mulligan said.

Manhattan resident Carl Dillon adopted a pointer-lab mix from the shelter.

“They were great down here,” Dillon said. “I’ve bought dogs from pet stores before but I think this one has more love to give than any other.”

There are many options available for people interested in adopting pets.

“One of every four dogs at the shelter is a purebred,” Irwin said.

Davila said anyone interested in adopting a pet should make sure they have the time and the financial means to care for them.

“You adopt a pet not based on the color or the breed but if it fits your lifestyle,” Davila said.

For more information about adoption, donations, or volunteering for the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter call 785-587-2783.

Some animals waiting for adoption:

Raven is a dark brown and black cat who can currently be seen at Petco. Raven has been with the shelter since May 5. Raven is almost 1 year old and is a sweet playful cat who would love a home. She is $91 to adopt.

Bear is a blue domestic shorthair neutered male cat who is almost 4 years old. He is very huggable and will get along with most cats. He has been at the shelter since April 13. He is $91 to adopt.

Basha is a blue cream tortoiseshell domestic longhair spayed female cat and has been at the shelter since March 25. Basha loves to be petted and rubbed on a plush pillow. She prefers a one-cat home with quieter children. She is $41 to adopt.