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The only show in town now

Crossroads Animal Shelter wants it known, they are still here, and they are not going anywhere

By: Ed DuBois

For about 17 years, the Buffalo area had two major animal adoption shelters.  One was the Animal Humane Society Shelter just off Highway 55 between Buffalo and Rockford, which closed in early-November this year.  Meanwhile, the Crossroads Animal Shelter, located just south of Buffalo near Highway 55 and CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 14, remains open.

"We're the only show in town now," said Karla Heeter, Crossroads' president and one of the founders.

She added that the hours are Fridays 2-6 p.m., Saturdays noon to 5 and Sundays noon to 5.

She expressed great appreciation for the volunteer work of Linda Schwichtenberg for managing Crossroads.  Heeter said Schwichtenberg is a key reason Crossroads has been doing well financially.

Crossroads now has its first paid manager, Alyssa Snavely of Rockford, a veterinary technician who graduated from Buffalo High School in 2012.

Snavely hasn't noticed a big jump of inactivity at Crossroads since the Animal Humane Society Shelter closed, but she said more visitors have been seen in recent weeks.

"More people have been coming in here, but I'm not sure if it's because of the time of year or because the other shelter closed," Snavely commented.

Some visitors said they heard Crossroads closed.  They apparently confused Crossroads with the Animal Humane Society.

Heeter and others involved with running Crossroads want to get the word out that the shelter is going strong.

"We're still here.  We're not going anywhere," said Crossroads' vice president, Rachel Pearson.


About 300 adopted each year

Just over 6,000 animals have been adopted at Crossroads since 2000.  An average of about 300 animals have been adopted each year.

Some animals that are brought to Crossroads get returned to their owners.  They call it an RTO (return to owner).  Snavely said there were 105 RTOs last year.

In addition to finding good homes for mostly dogs and cats, Crossroads serves as an impound facility for several cities, including: Buffalo, Delano, Howard Lake, Independence, Maple Plain, Minnitrista, Montrose, Orono, St. Bonifacius, and Waverly, as well as Rockford Township.

The euthanasia rate at Crossroads is low.  Adoption is preferred, but sometimes euthanasia is the best option for an animal to prevent suffering, Heeter, Snavely and Pearson explained.

Crossroads has a contract with Wright County to provide dangerous dog services.

Incidentally, Heeter stepped down as the Crossroads president during the time she was a county commissioners.  She wanted to avoid a possible conflict of interest related to the dangerous dog contract.  Now she is president again.


Passionate about animals

Crossroads has a staff of eight people, and a ninth position could be filled soon.  All but Snavely are volunteers.

Heeter said efforts are underway to grow the volunteer program.  If you are interested, call 763-684-1234.

A few board of directors positions are being added, as well.  In fact, interviewing is underway with candidates recommended by a nominations committee.

Heeter said, whether you are a volunteer or board member, "we want to engage more people.  There are many opportunities."

Snavely said the volunteers are very committed.

"They are passionate about animals.  They are caring, and they treat the animals like their own," she stated.

Some volunteers help with Crossroads events.  Others work on fundraising.

Dog walking is an area where more volunteers would be greatly appreciated.

Volunteers also help keep the shelter clean.

Heeter mentioned that people comment about the cleanliness of the Crossroads facility, and she is proud of that.


Fundraisers in February, April

One of the fundraising activities involves sewing Pet Pads, and many of these have been sold over the years.  The volunteers who sew the Pet Pads are very much appreciated, Heeter said.

Fundraising events include Taste for Tails, an evening of tasting wine, beer and spirits next door to the Downtown Wine and Spirits store in Buffalo.  The date for the event this year is Feb. 25, 2018.

In April, an annual dinner is planned. This year, it is called Cocktails for Cats ... and Dogs, Too.

A coin jar fundraising effort has been surprisingly effective.  About 60 big jars are in stores all over the county.  The coins from the jars added up to over $11,000 in 2016.

"We paid the $1,000 monthly mortgage mainly with the coins from the jars," Heeter mentioned.

A few other fundraising efforts involve pet sponsorships and sales of gift cards.  When you sponsor a pet, you get updates about the animal you are sponsoring, and you get informed when the animal is adopted.

Heeter stated the support from people for Crossroads was significant right from the start.  A total of $70,000 was raised in the first year.  That led to obtaining a $100,000 loan for the construction of a shelter.  Rick Scott of Scott Builders volunteered to oversee the project without charge.


'Refresh' the shelter

The facility opened in 2002, and now Heeter and the others in charge are planning to "refresh" the shelter with some paint on the walls.  The floors need attention, too.

Planning is underway for a new house for cats.  This would be a separate structure specifically constructed with cats in mind.

Besides that, a Crossroads "Catio" on the outside of the main building could be an added-on patio. This would be an outdoor cat cage with climbing structures.  It would give cats some fresh air and a different environment.

Crossroads already has an agility area for dogs, so now the cats are getting some special consideration.


Match animal and owner

When it comes to putting a dog or a cat up for adoption, Crossroads puts some thought and consideration into the process.

"We don't just sell animals," Heeter said.  "We ask questions and get some history with animals.  We try to match the animal and the new owner."

Because of the extra effort, the Crossroads' return rate is low, according to Heeter.

"Sometimes it (the process) is off-putting.  People will ask, 'Why all the questions?'" Snavely said.

Heeter stated, "We want a forever home for each animal."


Still here

The Animal Humane Society Shelter down the road from Crossroads wanted the same thing.  Now that one of the shelters is closed, Crossroads is "the only show in town."  Heeter and company want to be sure everyone knows, "We're still here.  We're not going anywhere."



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