Worldwide support bails out Missoula no-kill shelter

Kitty

Martin Kidston

Among the animals being cared for at AniMeals in Missoula was this kitten, which was tossed from a moving car in Billings. The no-kill shelter was in danger of shutting down but has received enough donations to continue operating.

The numbers haven’s been finalized and won’t be until the end of the month. But it’s safe to say that AniMeals has received the miracle it was looking for.

Karyn Moltzen, founder and executive director of AniMeals, said Tuesday that volunteers from around the world came to the organization’s rescue, helping it raise the $60,000 needed to pay off debt and keep the no-kill shelter open.

While the figures are likely higher, a final number hasn’t been tallied. Moltzen expects to release the total amount received by the shelter at the end of the month.

“We are at zero with our bills,” said an encouraged Moltzen. “We got donations from 26 states and nine countries. We expected we would get some support, but nothing like what we got.”

Donations came in from across the U.S. and as far away as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece and the United Kingdom, among others. The outpouring of support has been such that Moltzen finds it difficult to find the words to express her gratitude.

Some gave as little as $1. Others gave hugs and encouragement, she said.

“We are so moved by this show of compassion, support and blind faith,” Moltzen said. “There’s really no words to express how we’re feeling. A thank you just doesn’t cut it. How do you say we got our miracle? How do you let these people really understand the depth of our gratitude?”

At the local level, the shelter’s door has been revolving with well-wishers and donors dropping off pet food and cleaning supplies. The shelter’s 45 cats have received an extra bit of love, most still looking for a permanent home.

With the bills paid, Moltzen said AniMeals will work on remaining solvent. The shelter is implementing a new system of “checks and balances” to ensure the problem will never resurface, Moltzen said.

“We’re just going to put this behind us as best we can and continue on,” she said. “We’ve dropped our population in the building to 45 cats. Going forward, it’s going to be a brighter day. We’ll be extremely careful.”

It was last week when AniMeals made its troubles public. Facing a mountain of back bills, the shelter planned to close its doors and cease operation by month’s end. It had already reduced its hours of operation and cut its staff from 10 employees to three.

But with the bills now paid, Moltzen said, the shelter will move forward with new diligence, though it will rely more heavily on volunteers to help with the workload.

“We won’t be hiring again until we’re absolutely sure we can sustain, and when we do it will be one person at a time,” Moltzen said. “The volunteers will be critical – cleaning kitty boxes and loving on the kitties. That will be really important. We can’t let the kitties not get the touch, the care and the loving they really need in a shelter. Shelter life is tough for these guys.”

As for those felines, Moltzen said the shelter will stabilize its population and continue to push its adoption numbers.

“We’re going to keep our numbers at 45,” she said. “As they get adopted, we can start thinking about bringing others in. We’ve got 50 kittens in foster care that will be coming in very soon. We’re not going to be doing anything until we can get those kittens adopted out.”

Historically, she said, the shelter averages roughly 30 adoptions a month.

This article originally appeared on Missoula Current. Martin Kidston is the founding editor of Missoula Current. 

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