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Animal shelter expanding, making safety upgrades, hoping for more

Mission Valley Animal Shelter

A lot of changes are happening at the Mission Valley Animal Shelter in Polson -- the only place for strays between Missoula and Kalispell.

“The facility, up until about a year ago, wasn’t nearly what it needed to be to meet the needs of this community,” said Filip Panusz, executive director of the shelter.

Right now the shelter has about 11 kennels, capacity to hold about 11 dogs, but after all is said and done they’re hoping to be able to house about 30 dogs, including mothers with puppies.

“We have a lot of stray animals in this community, especially stray dogs, but also stray cats, and we’re trying to keep up,” said Panusz.

They’ve already expanded the building and put in more kennels that should be in use next month. They’ve also redone the cat patio, also called the cattery, so that it’s floored with concrete and is cleaner for the cats to go outside.

A new shed was also added to the grounds where they can move storage.

All those changes were funded by the $30,000 raised in last year’s Puppy Party Fundraiser, plus an associated $15,000 through two large donations and a grant from the ASPCA -- a national organization that makes sure shelters are following the most up-to-date protocols.

Panusz is hoping the upcoming Puppy Party Fundraiser on Sept. 7 will bring in enough money to continue the upgrades.

He wants to turn a room that’s currently used as storage into a new intake room. Right now animals that are dropped off and families hoping to adopt all come through the front lobby. Panusz says they need two separate entrances because they don’t always know if a new animal is friendly or disease-free.

“It’s also going to make things much safer for the public. Sometimes dogs that come into the he shelter, they might be aggressive, for instance, and we don’t know that, because we’ve never met them before,” said Panusz. “So that we can actually have a safe and modern place where we can check in dogs, process them, evaluate them, make sure that they’re healthy.”

They want to add a quarantine room next to the new intake room where they can put diseased dogs when needed.

To pay for the upgrades, they are asking for auction item donations for the puppy party. Contact the shelter at 406-883-5312 if you would like to donate.

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