Walking into the Saugerties Animal Shelter, you are greeted with a symphony of barking dogs and the suspicious meows of cats.
Shelter manager Elly Monfett greets you. Run by herself, Animal Control Officer Nancy Gage, and a host of volunteers, the shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. The shelter houses strays, finds animals loving homes and helps pet owners in need. It services the city of Kingston, the town of Ulster, Saugerties and the town of Woodstock. While many of the adoptive pet owners are locals, Monfett credits the volunteer-run Facebook Page for drawing in a number of out-of-town adoptions.
Though Monfett has only managed the shelter since April, she has worked there as a both a volunteer and paid employee for many years. She is a dog trainer, wildlife rehabilitator and once owned a kennel.
With the passing of Marie Post, founder of the shelter, Monfett has taken over leadership duties.“Marie Post ran a tight ship here and we were able to transition leadership pretty smoothly.”
Volunteers and donors
The shelter relies on community support.
“We are always in need of help,” said Monfett. “We can always use monetary donations, supplies such as dog food, cat food, litter, bleach, paper towels and bedding.” Although the shelves were stacked high with towels and sheets, Monfett said they would quickly run out without help.
Monfett gave an example of a recent donation.
“This young man recently had a birthday party where he asked all of his guests to bring donations for the animal shelter instead of gifts. These kids not only donated items themselves but collected items from others as well. They are coming by in a few weeks to drop everything off.” Monfett was truly touched.
In addition to tangible goods, there’s also a need for volunteers. There are about a dozen regular volunteers, with about six who very regularly help out. A volunteer form can be found on the shelter’s website, www.saugertiesanimalshelter.com. All volunteers must be 16 or older.
Another way to support the shelter– check out the Holiday Sale at the shelter, Saturday, Dec. 5 during regular hours of operation.
Paws and claws
The shelter mostly takes dogs and cats. The few rabbits and guinea pigs that have come through the doors are able to find homes as well. The shelter can take up to 14 dogs at a time. Nine of the 11 dogs at the shelter last week were pit bulls. Due to their reputation, they can sometimes be harder to place but Monfett says they all eventually find a loving home. All the dogs that come through the shelter are strays, usually found wandering the streets. If you come across a stray, “Hold on to it, if you safely can, and give us a call. Try not to call saying that you saw a dog on such and such a street. We then tend to end up on a wild goose chase.”
Cats at the shelter are received on a “case-by-case basis” and are supported by the Animal Emergency Fund, Inc. The AEF is a nonprofit organization that was started by Marie Post and is now managed by her son, Ken. Through the Animal Emergency Fund the cats receive medical attention and can be spayed or neutered. The shelter doesn’t take feral cats; those go to the Woodstock Feral Cat Project. Last week the shelter had six cats, with two set to leave very soon. Monfett says the shelter has had as many as 27 cats at one time. From last January until now, the shelter has placed 69 cats. Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for both dogs, cats and the shelter.
The shelter also operates a food pantry; dog and cat food, that is, along with litter and other basic supplies. Filled by donations from the public, Target, and money from grants, the pantry is open to the public and used by the shelter. While the public is welcome to come in with requests for general items, no questions asked, Monfett hopes that the supplies go to those who truly need them and that people are not taking advantage of the system.
Spreading the word
Due in part to the location, which is behind the Saugerties Transfer Station, Monfett says that some people don’t even know the shelter exists. “People can just come in and check us out. We are always up for visitors and kitty socializers!” The hours make it a little tricky as well.
When you ask Elly Monfett what her goal for the shelter is, she will tell you it is to have an empty facility. She says that educating people and properly spaying and neutering animals could help make that goal a reality. She mentioned Upstate Spay & Neuter Services, a mobile unit that travels throughout Greene and Ulster counties. “It’s a really great group that provides low-cost services. I wish more people were aware of them.”
Anyone adopting an animal must fill out an application and provide two references. The fee to adopt a dog is $160. This includes spaying or neutering along with a variety of shots. The fee to adopt a cat is $75. This includes spaying or neutering along with shots and testing for feline leukemia. Kittens are $55 and an agreement to have them spayed or neutered most be signed. Elly Monfett can be reached at the at the shelter at (845) 679-0339.