NEWS & HEADLINES - 2017
02/20 TEXAS DOGS find homes in Minnesota Certain breeds have better chance of adoption in Minnesota
By Deanna B. Narveson
Plex, a pit bull mix with big soulful eyes, has traveled here from more than 1,300 miles away in Corpus Christie, Texas.
Plex will soon be up for adoption at the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society, but he’s had a hard life. He’s older, at about eight years old, he needs some dental work for severely damaged teeth. He’s heartworm positive, but receiving treatment.
“He is a big sweet dog,” said volunteer Diane Lucantonio.
And he wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for a network Lucantonio set up with shelters in the Minnesota area to transport dogs from Texas, where shelters often have more than they can handle, to a place where they have a better chance to find a loving home.
Lucantonio lives in Wheaton and started her rescue network by reaching out to humane societies throughout Minnesota. She hand selects adoptable dogs in Texas, and then raises funds to arrange the costly transport in vans to get them out of their current shelters where they could be euthanized.
“I consider them all my dogs,” Lucantonio said. “I follow up with them all the way to the end.”
She started transporting dogs from Texas to BENCHS in July of last year, and so far about 100 dogs have come to Mankato. BENCHS receives dogs from nearby city and county impounds, owner surrenders and sometimes other shelters.
Susan Kroon, BENCHS board of directors president, said the network works because there are simply fewer dogs in need of care in the area than there are in the South, which she says may stem partially from a different attitude toward pet ownership. She has no idea if there is any other kind of network like this elsewhere in the country.
Kroon said that different types of dogs are popular in different regions, so some are more likely to find a family to live with in one place than they would another.
A homeless chihuahua might not be adopted for months in California where there are lots of chihuahuas, but the same dogs might find a home in days in Minnesota where there are fewer small dogs available.
Pat Sorenson, a BENCHS volunteer, said similarly, it would be difficult to find someone to adopt a pit bull in the South but in Mankato people often call asking for them.
But taking in dogs like Plex who need medical care is costly, so they have to increase fundraising efforts like the upcoming bowling tournament, Kroon said.
Sometimes the shelter is lucky and veterinarians offer to perform procedures like Plex’s dental work at a discount, she said.
“We do it because they are there, and they need help,” Kroon said. “It’s not like there are 45 needy dogs here that we turn away.”
01/29 Kiwanis Holiday Lights
The Kiwanis Holiday Lights wrapped up its 2016 season Dec. 31. About $60,000 for area non-profits was raised during the annual outdoor light display. A ton-and-one-half in food donations were collected for 20 food shelves in the area.
During Holiday Lights:
• Recognition was given to several local groups and businesses participating in the event.
• Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favorite non-profit tree displayed this year. 2016 winners are:
First place — Open Door Health Center ($300 prize); second place – BENCHS ($150 prize); and third place – One Bright Star ($50 prize).
• More than 4,500 children visited Santa. Children received free books during their visit, courtesy of Capstone.
• 51 Greater Mankato businesses participated as cash sponsors, showing continued support for the annual event.
• An additional 35 businesses participated as in-kind sponsors.
•The opening night parade was presented by the Mankato Area Derby Girls. The winner of the $500 float con
test was Anthony Ford Fund.
•Thirty-one area restaurants donated food to help feed the volunteers during the event, as well as during set-up
01/19 Former BENCHS director charged with theft
By Kristine Goodrich, email@example.com
MANKATO — The former shelter director of the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society allegedly admitted to stealing funds from the organization.
Molly Harvey, 45, of Le Sueur, was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of theft. She took more than $5,000 in adoption fee revenues in 2016, according to the criminal complaint.
The president of the benchs board of directors called police on Jan. 3 after receiving a resignation letter from Harvey. In the letter, Harvey reportedly admitted to taking funds and stated she is “remorseful.” According to the complaint, the letter stated she intended to borrow the funds until payday, but it “spiraled out of control.”
A letter sent to BENCHS members from the board of directors reports that missing adoption fee collections were noted in January and February and again in November and December. The board asked Harvey to investigate and she resigned.
An audit of BENCHS finances is underway, according to the criminal complaint. Preliminary findings allegedly indicate Harvey took adoption fees at least 36 times between January and December. The complaint states the total loss of the known thefts exceeds $5,000.
Harvey will make her first court appearance next month.
Board of directors President Susan Kroon told The Free Press she couldn’t talk about the case while the investigation is ongoing. She said the animals in BENCHS care have not been impacted. She provided a copy of the letter sent to members.
“As members of the BENCHS board, we take our fiduciary responsibility very seriously,” the letter states. “We have been meeting frequently since this issue was identified, and we are creating new policies and procedures for handling money to prevent loss of any kind in the future.”
Harvey became director in February 2015, according to an announcement in a BENCHS newsletter. Kroon said the board hasn’t begun searching for a new director.