Friends of the Havre Animal Shelter – a non-profit organization that helps meet some of the city shelter’s needs not provided for in its budget – is selling raffle tickets in a special fundraiser to purchase air-filtration units that will help keep animals at the shelter healthy, and it’s happening thanks to the generous last wishes of a long-time Havre business woman.
Last year, the shelter had to deal with four rounds of an upper respiratory disease, Animal Control Officer Pete Federspiel said. And though the dogs at the shelter haven’t had outbreaks of any disease, a vaccination-resistant kennel cough did make its way into the Havre community, so he has had to stay vigilant with each new dog entering the shelter, as well.
After being given a diamond pendant necklace and a watch as a final donation from area animal welfare supporter Judy Sande, the non-profit’s five-member board met and quickly decided to use the gift to fund the purchase and installation of two hospital-grade air filtration units – one each for the cat and dog rooms. The two jewelry pieces, a combined value of about $3,400, are the featured prizes in the Diamonds and Dogs are a Girl’s Best Friend fundraising raffle, just in time for Mother’s Day.
“Judy was a big supporter of the shelter and animals,” said Kim Federspiel, who spearheaded the formation of the Friends non-profit in response to seeing the shelter and the community’s needs after her husband took his position at the animal shelter six years ago . “It’s really cool that one of her last thoughts was to help the animals. We’re very appreciative.”
“We greatly appreciate everything she’s done,” Pete Federspiel said. “She’s been a huge supporter of us and I hated to see her passing. … This donation was amazing.”
Judy Sande was immersed and started working in the service industry as a youngster when her parents owned the tavern by Fresno Reservoir, then called Sande’s Tavern. When they sold the business and purchased the iconic Andy’s Supper Club in Havre while she was in high school, Sande worked there as well, eventually taking over the business and operating it until she sold it in 2018.
Sande’s daughter Candice Delaney said her mother’s weakness was cats, but she absolutely loved all animals, having grown up with a menagerie of cats, dogs, goats and horses.
“God knows she liked animals better than people,” Delaney said with a laugh.
She added that her mother was sick enough in late 2021 that she signed up for hospice in October, and one of the activities the two did together in those last days was go through Sande’s jewelry box.
“We talked about the different pieces that she had,” Delaney said, “… and talked about certain things that meant a lot to her, and decided that a couple of things were going to go to benefit something that she loved – and that was the animals. So we decided on two pieces to go to the shelter.
“Looking back,” she added, “it was actually really neat to be able – I didn’t think it was going to come that quickly – but it was neat to be able to have that time, to know what she wanted and what was important to her and what kind of legacy she wanted to leave … what she wanted to leave her stamp on.”
The shelter handled more than 600 animals in 2021 alone, Pete Federspiel said. This number includes animals caught or turned in that are held for owner pickup as well as stray or owner-surrendered animals held until they are adopted or transferred.
Also included are cats captured in the trap-neuter-release program that Federspiel initiated for neighborhoods that have a high number of stray cats. Once a problem area is identified, he works to trap the strays, and once all of them are caught, they are spayed or neutered, ear-cropped for identification and released to the neighborhood again where they can work on rodent control.
The city animal shelter, after Federspiel’s hire, became a no-kill shelter that no longer euthanizes dogs and cats after a two-week hold, but rather tries to find homes for the animals and works on spay-neuter and vaccination programs.
“It’s just kind of sweated into that,” he said. “The entire animal care industry has been kind of changing and we’re just kind of … catching up with the rest of the industry.”
But there are some additional costs with that, he added, which is one of the reasons why the Friends of the Havre Animal Shelter was created. The shelter has a limited budget from the city, but the non-profit gives the shelter the ability to do fundraising and take donations to cover the extra expenses that are outside the restraints of the budget.
“The nonprofit Friends organization has been amazing,” he said. “A lot of the changes probably wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for them raising money from the community to make some improvements here. … We’ve had great support from the community.”
Kim Federspiel said that, as a municipal facility, Havre Animal Shelter has to operate within its normal operating budget. The benefit from community’s monthly, one-time, memorial and fundraising donations to the non-profit is two-pronged. It helps the shelter not only cover expenses for vaccinations, spay-neuter, veterinary care, transport, increased feed expenses and more for animals held until adopted, but also hold spay-neuter and vaccination clinics for the public, operate the trap-neuter- release program, stock the public pantry that can help provide dog and cat food and litter to someone in need, and more.
Some of what more the non-profit helps provide are improvements to the facility.
An enclosed outside turn-out area – a “catio” – is scheduled for construction this summer, Federspiel said. And, of course, the air-filtration units that kill 99.9% of tested viruses and bacterial pathogens and shows an 87% reduction in spread of airborne diseases, she said.
This should not only cut down on the physical toll on the cats and the veterinary expenses for the shelter, but also help keep operations at the shelter running smoothly, Pete Federspiel said. Every time an infection occurred, the shelter had to quarantine, so no cats were rescued, adopted out or transferred, and the trap-neuter-release program was put on hold.
The two air-filtration units will be purchased as soon as the raffle drawing is held.
A limit of 200 tickets will be sold for a chance to win two gift baskets. The first-place gift basket includes, among other smaller items a gold chain and pendant with a total diamond weight of .96 carats appraised at $3,000 and the second-place basket includes a Wittnauer ladies watch with Swarovki accent, valued at $395.
Tickets are $20 each and can be bought through the Friends of the Havre Animal Shelter Facebook page or by contacting the shelter at 406-265-2959.
The Federspiels said that more than half the tickets have sold in less than a week, and Delaney’s two young boys will help draw the names for the raffle their grandmother helped make happen.
Delaney said she is excited that the boys get to be a part of this and is glad that her mother’s gift will make a lasting and crucial addition to the shelter’s infrastructure, compared to funding something like a vaccination or spay/neuter clinic, which are crucial , but less tangible.
“I really like this because it’s kind of keeping her memory alive,” she said. “… I feel like this is going to help so many more animals in the long run and it’s something that’s going to be standing for years and years instead of a one-time use. I think they picked the perfect thing.”
She said she hopes that her mother’s legacy also inspires other people to find it in themselves to do what they can for their community.
“Find something that you’re passionate about – because my mom was very passionate about animals – and find something you can do to help. I don’t care if it’s volunteering, I don’t care if it’s a monetary donation, if it’s just spreading the word. To find something that you care about and something that you invest yourself into, that’s just the neatest thing to be able to find something that you love and give that love to someone else to pass on and help someone else in turn .”