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Beltrami Humane Society director Brandon Mustful visits Lilah in an outside pen on Friday afternoon. The number of dogs is down but cat numbers remain high. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer
Beltrami Humane Society director Brandon Mustful visits Lilah in an outside pen on Friday afternoon. The number of dogs is down but cat numbers remain high. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Beltrami Humane Society looks to address finances, perception

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI - After nearly having to close its doors at the end of 2011, the Beltrami Humane Society is still operating on a week-to-week basis.

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The Beltrami Humane Society faced a $40,000 budget shortfall last November, which they ultimately met, so doors could stay open.

Brandon Mustful took over as director June 5 after the Humane Society had been without a director since September.

In the first six weeks Mustful has been at the Humane Society, he said he's noticed a problem of perception with the public.

"We get several calls every day with people calling about stray or unwanted animals," Mustful said. "We wish we could take them all, but we have limited space."

The Beltrami Humane Society has room for 45 cats and 28 dogs, which includes animals in foster care.

"We have to make sure all of our animals are healthy and are taken care of," Mustful said. "People get mad when we can't take their sick animals, but then we have to take that sick animal to a vet, which means we have medical bills to pay. That inhibits our ability to care for the rest of our animals."

An example Mustful gave was a cat that recently had a $600 veterinarian bill, which got paid after Mustful sent out a plea for donations on the Humane Society's social networking pages.

Because the Beltrami Humane Society is a private, non-profit organization and not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, it does not receive any federal, state or county money. As a result, the Humane Society is funded completely by adoptions and donations.

"Right now we're OK but we operate on a week-to-week basis," Mustful said. "Thankfully, because of community support, we're able to stay open. If it drops out, we would be in trouble."

Operating that way makes it tough to plan for the Humane Society's future, Mustful said.

"Our goal is to do a strategic five-year plan," Mustful said. "I've been applying for grants, but you never know if you'll get them, so we need to have a cushion for the future."

When the Humane Society's budget shortfall hit at the end of 2011, the Humane Society Board had to redo its budget, Chairwoman Sandy Demary said.

"We completely dug in and revised it," Demary said. "We reduced expenses, and we placed more of an emphasis on getting our name out and getting donations up and getting adoptions up."

Mustful said the Humane Society currently has 63 animals for adoption and have had several dog adoptions in the last few weeks.

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