Animal shelter receives $10,000 donation with matching pledge

A private donation to St. Frances Animal Rescue has made it possible for the nonprofit shelter to keep operating after a difficult year.

The shelter recently received a promise from a private donor to match every dollar donated from Nov. 1 of this year until Nov. 1, 2022, up to $10,000.Joan Sargent, the foster/adoption coordinator for St. Frances, is confident the shelter will be able to raise enough to reach its target of $35,000. That would allow the organization to keep moving toward its goal of a permanent location. Right now, 12 animals are being fostered between Sargent's home and others in Wrangell.

Even after those funds are available, Sargent said it could take from three to five years to complete the project of moving into permanent quarters and turning the space into an animal shelter.

"We are very realistic about this endeavor," Sargent said. "We've evaluated other nonprofit organizations with efforts like this."

The previous shelter was operated out of the garage of Rick and Delores Klinke, who started the organization in 2009 when Wrangell was having a problem with feral cats. Since March 2020, the shelter has had to rely on homes to foster animals due to Delores Klinke's ailing health.

Since its inception, St. Frances has had 600 cats move through the shelter. It has helped find homes for cats, dogs and even a rabbit. Feral cats aren't able to be fostered, but the shelter will still have the animals spayed or neutered.

"We get unadoptable cats. If they're absolutely feral, we go back to the person that reported and say, 'We'll assure it's (fixed). Will you continue feeding it?'" Sargent said. "My motto is: It's almost impossible to turn a feral cat into a domestic cat, but it's also almost impossible to turn a domestic cat into a feral cat."

A new shelter could be built or remodeled, and Sargent said there are a few sites being considered. Whichever property is chosen, it will need to be big enough to house six to 10 cats at a time, with "access to a single extra-large cage for mother and kittens and a few holding cages for new and/or injured animals."

A second phase for the shelter would provide space for one to four dogs.

The property would ideally be 100 feet by 100 feet, with access to water, sewer, electricity and year-round two-wheel drive access for volunteers. It would also need a desk, phone and filing cabinet for reception, a bathroom and an industrial sink among other amenities.

On Nov. 10 at Island of Faith Lutheran Church at 6:30 p.m., Sargent and others from St. Frances will discuss the relocation and fundraising efforts. Community members are invited to attend and get involved in the process.

"Being tenacious and patient, it takes a lot of patience," Sargent said. "You have to be realistic. This is going to take years, not months. You just have to stick to it."


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