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Animal Shelter Reopens on New Footing


May 5, 2005 – Lucky loves people, but Animal Care Center of St. John shelter manager Connie Joseph doesn't think he'll ever find a home.
"He hates cats and doesn't like dogs bigger than he is," she said Thursday. Lucky is a pit bull who has lived at the shelter for a year.
Joseph said the 7-month old Lance is another sad case. The rotweiller-shepherd mix arrived at the shelter in a cage that was far too small for his hefty size. "And he was never shown any love. He's scared to death of everything," Joseph said.
The shelter currently has nine dogs and 18 cats needing homes. Some, like Lucky and Lance, are special-needs animals who will probably spend the rest of their lives at the shelter. Few people are willing to put in the time and effort needed with these animals.
The shelter does not euthanize animals that don't find homes.
After months of hard times, the Animal Care Center is back on track. Funding problems, internal dissent and the abrupt departure of the shelter manager caused the shelter to close in October 2004.
"It's been a challenging transition," board member Katha Ricciardi said Thursday. The organization is in the midst of evolving from a grassroots organization to one with a membership and consistent fundraising efforts — "So we're not always operating on the edge," she said.
The Wagapalooza show May 1 raised more than $20,000 for the organization.
As part of its efforts to gain a firmer footing, the organization in March elected a new board with Sheila Karcher as president; Diana Ripley, vice president; John Fuller, secretary; and Holly Hardy, treasurer.
Board members are Ricciardi, Dr. Elizabeth Barot, Patricia Bowman, Elaine Campbell, William Dove, B.J. Harris, Suzanne Kirk, Toni Leopold, Valerie Peters and Mark Shekelton.
The shelter has reopened. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Additionally, the Animal Care Center on May 4 resumed its free spay and neuter program for feral cats. Ricciardi said the shelter will provide traps so residents can catch the cats.
"We need people to help trap the cats to get the population under control," she said.
She said that people should deliver the trapped feral cats to Cruz Bay Canines, Cats and Critters in Palm Plaza between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. The animals can be picked up between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. the same day. Cats will have their ears clipped to signify they've been fixed.
Ricciardi suggested people trap the feral cats the previous afternoon. If you need a trap or more information about the program, call the shelter.
Ricciardi said she also is working with the island's resorts to develop a Cat Café program. She said it involves constructing a structure in an out-of-the-way place to serve as a feeding station. The Animal Care Center will pay to have the cats on the property spayed or neutered. This would get the cats out of the resort's restaurants to help alleviate health issues, but keep the cats on the property to keep down rodents.
Guests could visit the cats, which would provide great publicity for the resort, she said.
Along with talking about some of its programs, the Animal Care Center announced the Wagapalooza winners Wednesday. Here's a wrap-up.
Most look-alike:
1. Reno, a lab mix from St. Thomas, and owner Tony Provens.
2. Callie, a mixed breed from St. John, and owner Daniel Smith.
Best Costume:
1. Foxy, a Pomeranian from St. John, and owner Emese Nemeth.
2. Jesse Jane, a Dalmatian from St. John, and owner Karen Jarvis.
3. Bahl, a basset hound from St. Croix, and owner Lacye Quinn.
Best Island Dog:
1. Tiki, a mixed breed from St. John, and owner Maryann Miller.
2. Mantra, a mixed breed from St. John, and owner Hieu Nguyen.
3. Bear, a mixed breed from St. John, and owner Kathleen Piscreta.
Best Trick:
1. Cappy, a port water dog from St. John, and owner Ann Glen.
2. Gemini, a poodle from St. Thomas, and owner Christina Marchi.
3. Jing, a Chinese crested from St. John, and owner Erin Clark, tied with Schatzi, a rottweiler mix from St. John, and owner Lee Morris.
Best kid and companion:
Teddy Bear, a rottweiler from St. John, and owner Jonathon Ross.
Best rescued dog:
Mantra, the mixed breed from St. John, and owner Hieu Nguyen.
Best In Show: Bahl, the basset hound from St. Croix, and owner Lacye Quinn.
For questions and more information, call the Animal Care Center at 774-1625.

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