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The quest for a new animal shelter in McDonough County

Bonnie Smith-Skripps, President of the Humane Society of McDonough County, with Scooby, a one-year-old hound mix that came into the animal shelter as a stray and is up for adoption.
Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio
Bonnie Smith-Skripps, President of the Humane Society of McDonough County, with Scooby, a one-year-old hound mix that came into the animal shelter as a stray and is up for adoption.

The Humane Society of McDonough County's second annual Casino Night fundraiser is Saturday, March 2. Tickets are available on the Humane Society website.

A small white building on Tower Road on the north edge of Macomb has served as McDonough County’s animal shelter since the early 1980s.

The shelter can house up to 30 dogs and 30 to 50 cats.

But it has infrastructure problems that are beyond repair and it lacks space for essential shelter functions.

For instance, there’s no separate area where people can get acquainted with dogs up for adoption.

Likewise, the cat area is inside the building’s garage, limiting socialization for the felines. Some of the dog kennels have to be used for storage and others are falling apart.

Bonnie Smith-Skripps, President of the Humane Society of McDonough County, said the building has served the county well over the years, but it’s time for a new one.

“The need is great,” she said. “What we’re planning is essentially a shelter that’s of the 21st century. One that has specialized rooms for isolation to keep contagious diseases from spreading and has a meet and greet space instead of a small office.”

The proposed new shelter would have free-range areas for cats, plus outdoor runs for all the dogs.

A better space for animals and volunteers

McDonough County operates the animal shelter. The Humane Society is a completely separate, all volunteer-run non-profit organization that provides medical care for the animals and works to promote adoption of homeless dogs and cats.

Humane Society volunteers like Smith-Skripps are at the shelter nearly every day, providing companionship for the animals and walking the dogs.

Smith-Skripps said the proposed new shelter would not only better accommodate the needs of lost and homeless animals, but be a more inviting space for the public and volunteers.

“We raise money to help the animals, whether that’s specialized medical needs that the county wouldn’t be paying or sponsoring animals for adoption that are moving quickly enough,” she said.

Smith-Skripps said the vast majority of animals that come into the shelter are adoptable animals who deserve a chance to find their forever home.

“Some have been neglected or abused, but with proper diet and lots of love and attention they quickly turn around and are ready to find their new homes,” she said. “Some lose their families through circumstances beyond their own, or their family’s control, and are so ready to find their new best friend.”


'Friends, fun, and furbabies'

Efforts to raise money for the new shelter started in 2017 with an estate gift.

“Not enough to build a new shelter but he stipulated – and it was for both the county and the Humane Society – that it was to better this shelter or to build a new shelter,” Smith-Skripps said.

She said with community support, the Humane Society has now raised more than half of its $1 million goal and is looking at possibly renovating an existing building for the new shelter.

A fundraiser for the campaign to build a new animal shelter will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at Park Place of Macomb, 127 E Carroll St.

The Humane Society’s second annual Casino Night will feature real casino equipment, raffles, a wine pull, and a chance to pet some animals.

“We’ve got tons of gaming tables,” said John Biernbaum, co-chair of the event. “We’ve got more gaming tables this year than last year. We’ve had tremendous support in terms of prizes, raffle prizes and live auction prizes.”

Biernbaum said the casino equipment is provided by Drews Gossel, the major sponsor for the event.

He also said it was a full house last year, making it the biggest fundraiser ever for the Humane Society of McDonough County – and they expect another full house this year.

“It’s going to be a night of friends, fun, and furbabies,” Biernbaum said.

Tickets for the event must be purchased in advance and are available on the Humane Society’s website.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.