Winona Area Humane Society urges pet owners to seek help after series of incidents

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT)– The Winona Area Humane Society is seeing a string of recent incidents where pets were improperly surrendered, which can put them at serious risk. Staff members are concerned for the welfare of these animals and say there is a right way and wrong way to surrender a pet.

It’s not necessarily unusual to see cats being turned into the Winona Area Humane Society, especially around this time of year. And sometimes, people improperly surrender their animals.

“But this spring, we’ve seen quite an increase,” said Richmond McCluer, president of the board of directors for the Winona Area Humane Society.

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Courtesy of the Winona Area Humane Society.

The first incident was at the end of April, when someone left what’s believed to have been a cat in a box outside after they closed.

“By the time staff came in the morning, the animal had already gotten out,” McCluer said.

Then in mid-May, someone left two young kittens by the organization’s dumpster. They then tried to follow the person into the street. Luckily, staff members at a neighboring business came to the rescue.

“Some of their employees saw the incident out at the loading dock, ran out and scooped the kittens up,” McCluer said.

This week, someone abandoned a cat in a box under a bench outside the front door– which staff are no longer using because of the coronavirus. She sat there for about an hour in the heat and humidity.

“It wasn’t meowing– it was screaming. That’s how we found it,” said Susie Marshall, director of the Winona Area Humane Society.

It’s tough to say if these types of surrenders are linked to financial uncertainty from the pandemic. But no matter the reason, there are resources available.

The humane society has connections with the Walmart and Target in Winona; Winona Feed, Seed and More; Tomah Walmart Distribution Center; and CANIDAE. Those businesses donate food, litter and other necessities to the humane society.

There are free to anyone in need of supplies for their pet.

“If they just reach out to us, we can point [pet owners] in the right direction,” Marshall said.

If need be, staff say they are willing to set up a foster-care type situation for the pet as the owner gets over their hardship.

But if you absolutely have to surrender, you should call the humane society and set up an appointment. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork and bring in a copy of their medical records.

“Normally there is a surrender fee, but if they can’t afford it, we’d rather give a cat a good home,” Marshall said.

Staff are able to help– all you have to do is ask.

“There are a million things we can do besides dumping an animal,” Marshall said.

If you find any pets or need to surrender them, call (507) 452-3135. If no one is available, please leave a message. Staff members are checking the voicemail and will call you back as soon as possible to set up an appointment.