Oct. 22 2014 12:00 AM

Animal shelter has goal of $2 million for expanded, updated facility

A mother and son sits filling out paperwork to describe their cat, which went missing a week ago. They quibble over the color of hair and eyes.

An older man is at one of the counters holding a red leash and choke chain collar.

“Take me to Ward 4, I saw him there yesterday,” he says to the woman on the other side of the glass, eagerly describing his dog to her.

To his left is a woman in tears, getting up to leave with an empty cat carrier.

She said she just can’t keep her cat any more. His urinary problem was too much for to handle.

This was a recent Monday afternoon at the Ingham County Animal Shelter in Mason. The shelter is the headquarters for animal control officers and a temporary home for lost, discarded, abused and sometimes unsafe pets.

The facility, built in the 1960s, needs a big-time overhaul.

The lobby is tight but cozy. The kitty condo room, a lounge for felines but filled to the max. The kennel cage rooms, antiseptic, metal and concrete echoing halls of meows and whimpers.

This Saturday’s “A Night of Hollywood Horror” kicks off a fundraising campaign to raise enough to build a new, stateof-the art facility. The Ingham County Animal Shelter is shooting to raise $2 million for a new shelter to be built, starting with a goal of $25,000 from this red carpet event.

READ: Top Dog, Seltz new Ingham County Animal Control director

It’s a busy operation with a capacity for 200 animals on any given day (often going over limit, especially with cats).DSC_0218.jpg

Volunteers and foster families help pick up the load and ease the space strain.

The animal control officers work eight-hour shifts, being dispatched anywhere in the 560-mile county.

Anne Burns, deputy director of the shelter, said they are looking at the Annex Building, the old road department building on Cedar Street in Mason. The county already owns it the building. That facility would double the space the shelter has, she said.

She said an architectural assessment is planned by January that will determine if the facility can be modified to suit their needs and how much it might cost. If it would cost too much they would be back to the drawing board looking for either land or a building to be donated.

“We want more capacity, we need a safe place for animals to go in the county,” she said.

She said it could take five years to move into a new shelter.

“I say five and hope that it’s going to be less,” Burns said. “Of course there is urgency, this building is getting older. What we hope to have is a state of the art facility with upto-date, air circulation. We want it to be clean and friendly and inviting and a healthy atmosphere for all the animals and all the visitors. We want a larger everything. We want an open inviting atmosphere people want to come and visit and where the animals are comfortable.”

The shelter has taken in all kinds of animals, not just cats and dogs.

There have been alligators, turkeys, rabbits, sheep and goats.DSC_0177.jpg

Ingham County Animal Control officers respond to over 3,000 complaints each year, as well as providing numerous animal related services to the community.

Jodi LeBombard, 29, is an animal control officer on the front lines every day catching lost dogs, picking up stray cats and pursuing animal cruelty cases.

She also has a soft spot.

“When I first started, all the time I was bringing home animals,” she said.

That includes a goat named Buttons and a sheep named Jacob.

The job can go from a lull to triage in a blink.

She describes going to a house and removing 100 cats, or the rural Haslett house with 35 to 50 dogs.

“We spent the entire day picking up as many as you could, fill up a truck and come back.”

She said she knows most of the animals are in a better place at the shelter than where they were removed from.

She’s been the lead investigator in some of the area’s most prominent and horrific cases. She was the officer on the case of the Michigan State University veterinary student who was abusing Italian greyhound puppies, throwing them against walls until they died.

She was one of the officers who answered the call about a pit bull frozen to death in a kennel in Ingham Park. She was also the officer who recently has been pursuing leads about “Skinny Minnie” the severely emaciated mastiff found at Hawk Island Park.

LeBombard, who recently won the National Animal Control Association officer of the year award, has a reputation for asking for the most difficult cases.

“I don’t give up when I investigate cases,” she said. “You can be an animal control officer or you can turn over rocks.

A Night of Halloween Horror Halloween Party

Co. Animal Shelter fundraiser Lansing Center $25-$200 8:30 p.m. 6:30
p.m. (VIP) Saturday, Oct. 25 lansinghalloweenparty.com