By Bob Freund | Photography by Kelvin Andow
ESTABLISHED: More than 30 years ago; formally incorporated in 1989
LOCATION: Office is at Owatonna Business Incubator. Animals are boarded in 24 volunteer foster homes in Steele County, mostly in the Owatonna area.
On Facebook: Steele County Humane Society
WHO THEY ARE: Non-profit organization dedicated to providing foster care and adoption for stray cats and dogs in Steele County.
Owner-surrendered pets may be accepted when space is available.
SCHS provides veterinarian health checks, medical treatments and spaying and neutering for foster animals prior to adoption. It is supported largely by donations, with some funding from the City of Owatonna, SCHS vice president Cathy Lindekugel says.
VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP: SCHS is a volunteer-based organization with one part-time administrator. The society has about 15–20 core volunteers, many of whom shelter dogs and cats in their homes. Another 20 or so volunteers help for various events or programs.
BY THE NUMBERS: In 2015, the Humane Society took in 95 dogs and 94 cats, and recorded adoptions of 88 dogs and 75 cats. Society members typically care for between 5 and 25 dogs, and “A lot of times, we’ll have up to 40 or 45 cats in the system,” Lindekugel says.
IN ACTION: A monthly adoption day showcases available dogs and cats. The society also hosts low-cost spay and neuter clinics periodically throughout the year. The group raises funds with a golf tournament in September, a pancake supper in the spring and sales of handmade crafts and baked items at the weekly Owatonna farmer’s market.
HOW TO HELP: “Financial support is always needed,” Lindekugel says. “The majority of the money goes to the animals (for food, medical expenses, etc.).” In addition, “we are always in dire need of foster homes.” Other volunteer opportunities range from sewing pet beds for sale at the farmer’s market to directing traffic at a private parking lot during the Steele County Free Fair to raise money.
PASSION: Five years ago, Cathy Lindekugel was moved to join SCHS by a newspaper article about the plight of the organization, which was turning away homeless cats because of lack of foster homes. “Once you get into animal rescue and you see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise, you can’t turn your back on it any more,” she says. In early May, she and husband Aaron were caring for both dogs and cats, including three kittens stricken with a neurological disease that affects walking and balance.
Connie Elmore, a board member, has been rescuing animals with SCHS for 24 years. “I feel like this is something I was called to do,” she says. Recently, she was caring for a litter of Boxer puppies, plus her own three pets.
Bob Freund is a writer based in Rochester.