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Great River Rescue: Don't abandon animals at shelter

BEMIDJI--Two sets of cats recently were abandoned at the local animal shelter, Great River Rescue, prompting its staff to remind the public that such acts are illegal.

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Penelope was one of multiple cats abandoned at the Bemidji animal shelter Great River Rescue. The situation prompted the shelter's staff to remind the public that such acts are illegal. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI-Two sets of cats recently were abandoned at the local animal shelter, Great River Rescue, prompting its staff to remind the public that such acts are illegal.

Executive Director Brandon Mustful said that aside from the legal issue, there are a number of additional reasons why abandoning animals at the shelter is problematic, such as the burden it puts on the shelter to quickly find a place for the animals to stay.

"If you just leave an animal without notice to anyone, that's abandonment," Mustful said. "What a person needs to do is call us and let us know what's going on, and then we can go over their options."

Two cats were dropped off at the shelter May 13. Four days later, a pregnant cat was dropped off. When the staff found that cat in the morning, they also found two stillborn kittens in the crate they were dropped off in. The cat later delivered two living kittens after the staff took the animal to the veterinarian.

One of the first two cats has since been adopted. The mother and kittens have been living with a foster home.

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According to Minnesota statutes, it is illegal to abandon animals.

Aside from the legal aspect, Mustful said there also are other considerations. While those who dropped off the animals at the shelter may have had good intentions, Mustful emphasized that their actions also have ramifications for others. For example, he said it affects other people who are on a waitlist to surrender animals at the shelter. There's also the medical expense for the shelter to deal with the animals and any medical needs they have.

"Our entire community must bear the burden of these criminal acts because this organization is funded through community support," the shelter's staff said on Facebook.

Instead of abandoning animals, Mustful said the animal shelter will try to work with animal owners to find other options if the shelter is not able to take in the pets immediately.

In addition to the shelter, the Bemidji Police Department hosts a pound. However, it does not accept surrenders and mainly operates as a place to keep strays officers encounter.

"For anyone out there that is facing a tough situation regarding the welfare of an animal, please don't lose hope. We are sorry that we can't directly and immediately help in every situation," the staff of Great River Rescue posted on Facebook.

Related Topics: GREAT RIVER RESCUEPETS
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