CASSOPOLIS — As Cass County residents make their lists and check them twice, Cass County Animal Control is asking them to keep furry friends lacking forever homes in mind.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, Christmas with the Animals will return to the Cass County Animal Shelter, 323 N. M-62, Cassopolis, for the first time since 2019. The public is invited to visit the shelter from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to visit with animals, enjoy light snacks and refreshments, and drop off donations.
“We had over 400 people here in 2019,” said Animal Control Director Ron Butts. “To date, that’s been the largest event. … I will say our community support is outstanding. “It’s humbling to say the least, honestly.”
Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke agreed.
“The community has always supported Cass County Animal Control,” he said. “This year it is needed even more with the excess number of animals in the shelter. Food and other consumables are being used at higher rate, making the need for help that much greater this year.”
Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas with the Animals was canceled in 2020 and 2021, but Butts said he and his team are excited to revive the popular event, especially considering the growing need for donations and pet adoptions.
“The last two months, we’ve been way over capacity for dogs,” Butts said. “I really want to point the finger at the economy right now. … When a bag of dog food has gone from $40 up to $85 now, it’s tough for some people that are on a budget.”
As of Nov. 4, the animal shelter housed 40 dogs and 13 cats — approximately 18 animals above capacity.
“We’re seeing an increase on owner surrenders, but we’re also seeing an increase of strays that we’re picking up on the road, too,” Butts said. “Some really nice dogs — it’s shocking to see that people aren’t coming to claim them. We are being told by people who surrender them that they just can’t afford it.”
Based on industry standards, the shelter’s capacity is currently around 35 animals.
“We work with 23 different agencies across three different states. ‘Transfer partners’ is what we call them. They can be anything from other animal control agencies to humane societies to rescue groups,” Butts said. “We’re doing what we can to try and encourage other agencies to help us out, but the problem that we’re running into now is a lot of our partners are struggling the same way we are.”
The excessive number of animals in the department’s care is quickly depleting available resources, which makes the return of Christmas with the Animals a timely one.
“Dry dog food, bleach and kitty litter are our three largest consumables right now,” Butts said. Other items needed include dish soap and laundry soap.
Although the growing number of animals is concerning, Butts said he knows the community will come through.
Behnke commended Butts’ service to the County.
“In 2016 Cass County Animal Control had a live release rate under 50 percent, and by 2019 that rate was improved to 95 percent — all with the hard work of Director Ron Butts, his staff and transfer partners," Behnke said. "Help them keep up the good work by donating this year.”
To see a full list of animals available for adoption, visit ccacshelter.org.