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Volunteers, community open hearts, billfolds for animal shelter

Enjoying their meals at the Wadena Humane Society Fall Fundraiser on a gray October evening were, clockwise, from left: Sharon Squier, Wadena Fultz, Pat Carpenter, Barb Neuschwander and Ruth Miller. The Huame Socity puts on two free will fundraiser events a year. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal1 / 5
The Wadena County Humane Society Fall Fundraiser was held Oct. 26 at the Wadena VFW Club. The society holds two fundraisers a year for the benefit of animals in distress. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal2 / 5
Jeff Harrison stirred up a roaster full of chili in the kitchen of the Wadena VFW Cluyb before last Thursday's Humane Society fundraiser. Harrison is a member of the Humane Society Board. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal3 / 5
Wadena County Humane Society President Tracy Adams Kooman, left, checked out the silent auction prize table last Thursday along with manager Emma Davenport and assistant manager Echo South. The group raises between $1,500 and $3,000 for Humane Society work. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal4 / 5
Humane Society Vice President Mike Tast legged a pot of chili to the elevator for transport to the VFW Club's main floor. Tast is also president of the VFW Club. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal5 / 5

Tracy Adams Kooman knows the value of being a volunteer in her hometown.

The president of the Wadena County Humane Society is an animal lover herself, and while she lives near the metro area with her husband, a piece of her heart is still with the people of Wadena.

Adams Kooman was one of many on hand last Thursday as the local chapter of the society held a fall chili feed at the Wadena VFW Club.

The local Humane Society holds two fundraisers a year - a spaghetti fundraiser in the spring and a chili fundraiser in the fall. Both are freewill events.

The local chapter has members like Lucille Belch, a hard-working pet lover who has been with the chapter for about 20 years.

"She puts in days of work prior to the event with her marketing efforts and organization," Adams Kooman said. "We are thankful to the board members and local volunteers who give of their time each year, setting up, serving the food, baking cookies and bars and making generous donations for our auction."

Adams Kooman recalls that before there was a Humane Society chapter in Wadena, the local police could only hold stray dogs and cats for five days. That changed when a local vet cooked up the idea of a Humane Society chapter.

"The focus of the local shelter is to save the lives of local cats and dogs," Adams Kooman said. "Minnesota does a great job with the education and commitment to spaying and neutering dogs; therefore, the population control is quite positive, and shelters aren't bursting with overflow."

This fact gives the Wadena chapter a chance to reach further outside the lines of Minnesota to save dogs from states that do have a numbers issue. Wadena currently has some strong partners in Texas who save dogs from overcrowded areas and bring them to Minnesota for the local chapter to "rehome."

The reproductive ability of cats makes them an entirely different "animal" for the society.

"The consequences from the cat's ability to reproduce often means that our phones ring with a surrender need that is beyond our capacity," Adams Kooman said.

The society encourages all cats owners to spay and neuter all kittens and adult cats on their farms and backyards.

"The needs of the WCHS are endless, and we encourage everyone to join our Facebook pages," Adams Kooman said.

In addition to the crowd that gathered last week on a blustery autumn evening for chili and the silent auction fundraiser, Adams Kooman paid tribute to Julia Whynott and her piano students who hosted a WCHS fundraiser Sunday at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Because some animal lovers are allergic to dog and cat hair, they decided to show their support by staging a recital. Maggie and Sean Carlson, Abby Johnston, Gabi and Noah Ros and Emma Taggart headed up this young group of musicians.

The work of the society is endless, so additional donation opportunities are now available at the local shelter and at some local businesses.

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