Great River Rescue still watching out for our furry friends

Great River Rescue
Great River Rescue is still taking in animals from the local pound, but they are not currently taking in animals through surrender. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI -- Dogs and cats need care and attention during this pandemic, too -- and Great River Rescue is making sure that happens.

When the stay-at-home order was announced by Gov. Walz, Great River Rescue’s Executive Director Brandon Mustful and his team had to close their doors to the public.

They reached out to the community to see if people would be willing to foster the animals at the shelter, because with little to no human contact, animals can develop medical and behavioral issues.

“Fortunately, when we announced that we were closing the shelter half of Bemidji called us and said that they could help and we now have no animals here at the shelter,” Mustful said with a laugh.

Like many other places, the rescue have had to go through some changes during the lockdown to keep the animals and the public safe.


“We are still taking in animals from the local pound, but we aren’t taking in animals through surrender,” Mustful said. “When the animals do come in, we give them an intake exam, check them over medically and behaviorally to see what needs they have, then work on getting them right into foster care.”

If there is an animal that is in a house that could have COVID-19 the animal is taken back to the shelter to be quarantined for 14 days. But according to Mustful, that has yet to happen.

Unfortunately, at this time with the order of no spay or neuter surgeries, the shelter is unable to have the animals fixed when adopted.

“We don’t have any adoptions right now and the animals that were in foster to adopt are being adopted out with no fee because we are not able to spay or neuter them. So, there is a loss of revenue from that,” Mustful said. “We are planning to provide our service more in the future by making videos to educate kids on how to be safe around animals and how to take reasonable care of pets.”

The shelter would have held their annual Furr Bowl Fundraiser this coming Sunday, which is their second biggest fundraiser during the year. Though the event will not be held as planned, it will be held in a virtual format for people to participate in. The shelter is also currently participating in the “ National House Pawty ” fundraiser.

“There is a lot going right now and people are trying to be creative by thinking of ways to continue the support organizations and people affected by this, and animal shelters are definitely right there as an organization that has really been affected,” Mustful said. “I saw this fundraiser and it looked fun, it looked exciting. If you are an animal lover I think you should check it out.”

They are still welcoming donations at this time, you can donate on their website or leave supplies donations at the shelter door, located at 1612 Carr Lake Rd. SE.

“The main thing we want people to know is that even though the building is closed we are still operating,” Mustful said. “We are still doing our work and we want to be able to do that as long as we can.”

Hannah LaVigne is a Multimedia Reporter at Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and graduated from Bemidji State University in 2020. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @hannahlavigne. Contact her at (218) 333-9772 or
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