ESTEVAN — The Estevan Humane Society has been busy with an overflow of cats and dogs since the end of last year.
They had to place the shelter on a full intake freeze in early November, and even though some animals found their forever homes since then, as of the beginning of 2023, the humane society still couldn't take in any more.
Shelter board president Tayja Lakusta said as they remained on the intake freeze over the holidays, they were happy that the weather wasn't too tough at the end of the year. They hope the situation will change soon, but for that, they'd need more animals to leave the shelter.
"We've seen adoptions; adoptions have been slow and steady. But our numbers are still too high to take our intake freeze off, per se," Lakusta said.
"We still operate on a case-by-case basis, like medical needs and smaller animals, etc. are a priority on an emergency intake needs basis."
The shelter can comfortably accommodate about 40-50 cats. With the help from their foster families, as of January, they still had about 65-70 cats and around 15 dogs in their care.
"Because we have so many foster homes, which is amazing, we're able to increase that number. But we also have to be cognitive of if the animal has to come back to us, we have to have a space at the shelter for them. So, it's a juggling act of helping everyone we can, but also managing what we're capable of keeping as well," Lakusta explained.
About 10-12 animals were adopted over the last month, and a few other ones are out on trials that haven't been finalized yet.
With dozens of animals in their care, the shelter constantly needs some supplies. Their greatest day-to-day needs are always bleach, paper towels, rubber gloves, and cat and dog food.
"We use this every day, and we run out of it quicker than other things," Lakusta said.
But they are also looking into different options to help keep animals entertained.
"We're starting to look at other ways of enrichment for our animals. So, a few weeks ago, we made a post about needing dog toys for feeding them to wear them out mentally instead of physically because it was so cold and they couldn't be outside for long periods," Lakusta explained.
They are also planning on renovating their kittens' rooms, adding climbing walls and acquiring better cat trees that can be more easily disinfected between groups of kittens. And right before Christmas, they saw help coming in for that.
Former Estevan resident Todd Kerns, the multi-talented, international rock star who also has a deep affection for cats, made a donation to his hometown animal shelter.
Todd and Monique Kerns provided bags of their specially blended Yule Rock Christmas Coffee for the shelter to sell with all the proceeds going towards the kittens’ rooms renovations. Lakusta said the coffee went really fast.
They plan on working on their kittens’ rooms in the spring when they will put in some windows for airflow, paint, add kennels, toys and other enrichment items and will build cat walls to keep animals active.
"We basically want to make their stay at the shelter better and more interactive for them while they're with us," Lakusta said.
She noted that they'd been talking to Kerns about their needs prior to Christmas and it was nice to see a local person coming back to his roots and helping the shelter.
"I'm excited to build that relationship and see where it can lead us in the future," Lakusta said.
Kerns said he always had an immense love and respect for all animals and a soft spot for Saskatchewan.
"Estevan is where I was born, and I've always longed for a deeper connection with the place. Shortly after I was born my family moved up north to Lynn Lake, Manitoba, where I spent the next 13 years before returning to Saskatchewan, but this time Lanigan. When Estevan came up as a possibility for our cause I jumped at it. My heart will always belong to Saskatchewan," Kerns said.
"The Prairies is where I come from and where my heart is. Some of the greatest people in the world are from there."
In January, Kerns also started a GoFundMe campaign with some incentives to motivate people to help the Estevan shelter with their goals. As of Jan. 9, 15 people donated to the Estevan Humane Society fundraising page with a total of $565 out of the $400 goal. All money raised will also go towards kittens’ rooms.
In the meantime, the shelter is also looking for volunteers and a cat groomer who could come down once a week and brush down all of their cats to help upkeep them.
For any updates on their needs and animals available for adoption, keep an eye on the Estevan Humane Society Facebook page.