T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter serves Manhattan, community animals for 26 years

Photo by Josh Staab | The Collegian Cane, an American Bulldog, and newcomer to the animal shelter looks longingly at the lock to his cage on Friday.

For almost three decades, abandoned animals – from birds and gerbils, to dogs and cats – have taken refuge in the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter, located at 605 Levee Drive.

The shelter’s missions is to, “…(protect) public health, welfare and property through enforcement of city and county ordinances and sheltering of unwanted companion animals, (provide) public education on the care of companion animals, and (promote) humane treatment and responsible pet ownership.”

The most common animals at the T. Russell Reitz are dogs, followed closely by cats. Dogs have a 90 percent adoption rate at the shelter. This is higher than the 20 percent national dog adoption rate, according to the American Pet Products Association.

The shelter’s current cat adoption rate is 75 percent; the national average is 26 percent, according to APPA.

Despite their adoptions rates, not all animals get adopted from the shelter. Caring for the animals on a daily basis requires a staff and volunteers. Volunteers socialize the cats, and help visitors interact with the cats. They also help teach dogs “basic manners,” exercise them, and help visitors interact with them. The shelter is currently looking for volunteers; applicants must be at least 18 years old and pass a background check.

Healthy animals stay at the shelter to be reclaimed by their owner for a duration of five days. After that, they become available for adoption by the public. Animals are generally allowed to stay at the shelter for as long as necessary, so long as they are healthy and mentally stable.

The shelter is open for adoptions Thursday-Tuesday from 1-5:30 p.m. Animals can be reclaimed or surrendered from 3-5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Photos by Josh Staab

Tippy, the domestic shorthaired cat brushes her tail against Melissa during one of her outdoor play times on Feb. 18th. Tippy is eight years old, and has been with the shelter since January 12th of this year.
Lauren Boyles, who has three dogs of her own, checks out whether Chaplin is the right dog for her friend, Emily Pirone. Emily is now a first time dog owner after adopting Chaplin, a Great Dane/Poodle mix on Friday.


A new addition to the shelter peaks out of his box and through the bars of his cage on Friday.


Busby Allen, who visits the animal shelter every now and then, offers a finger to Sabrina Friday. Sabrina is a domestic shorthaired cat, who is one year old, and has been with the shelter since October of last year.


Shih Tzu males Jingles and Jake look up through their cage on Friday. They were brought into the shelter together, and now share a room together as they wait to be adopted.