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Many people who have talked to me at the Humane Society of the Black Hills — either during a tour, orientation, or just some poor soul who happens to make eye contact with me in the lobby — have probably heard this number: 5,227.

That’s a big number and it raises some eyebrows because most people figure our annual animal intake in the 2,000 range, maybe 3,000. But 5,227 in 2018? Nope, no one guesses that. That number is comprised of dogs, cats, pigeons, rabbits, guinea pigs … you name it, there’s a reasonable chance we’ve seen it.

And we manage those animals well with systems for intake and adoption, medical transport, cleaning and feeding, behavior management and socialization…. It’s a fairly well-oiled machine.

But in early November, we’re going to throw some fur in that well-oiled machine. During the first week of November we’ll be removing and replacing half of the dog kennels in the facility thanks to an extremely generous community pitching in with a recent fundraising effort.

I’ve been looking at this project for months and, only as a joke, do I say this week-long project will go off without a hitch. It won’t. Moving dozens of dogs, removing dozens of kennels, and putting it all back together in the course of a week will be fraught with missteps and anxiety. We’re planning for the worst-case scenarios and, of course, hoping for the best.

Now that I’ve painted such a rosy picture of what is going to take place during the first week of November, maybe it’s not the right time to reach out for help…. But, seriously, we are putting together a list of names and phone numbers of volunteers who could help walk dogs during the week, possibly foster animals in their own home, help remove kennels etc. The exact nature of the work and timing are tentative, but volunteer help will be critical to a successful project. Check out our website — www.hsbh.org — for more information about this project and how to get on a volunteer list.

And like I said, this project is thanks to an extremely generous community so when it’s completed and we can all relax and take a breath, we’ll let the community know to stop down and take a look at the new kennels and join us for a cup of coffee.

The Humane Society embarked on the new kennel project for one simple reason: better animal care. The new single-panel kennels will provide a better environment for the dogs by reducing noise and preventing injuries which are more common in metal construction with chain link uppers. The kennels will also be a better experience for people coming in to look at these fine dogs for the same reasons — a quieter and more pleasing environment.

We’re continually working to provide the best care for thousands of animals — new treatments, new medicines, programs to provide spay/neuter, community education, in-house training and socialization — it’s all part of the package.

So, in November, stop down and see the new kennels. If you want to be put on a list to foster that week or lend a hand in an emergency, check out our website and go from there.

And as always, when you’re ready to add the perfect pet to your family, visit the Humane Society of the Black Hills and we’ll help you find the right dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, bird…. And rest assured, we see 5,227 animals come through the doors every year, we’ll find the perfect one for you.

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Have a comment for the Humane Society of the Black Hills? Something you would like to see addressed in a future column? Email Executive Director Jerry Steinley at operations@hsbh.org.

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