When dogs first teamed up with mankind, a certain informal agreement was struck: That we would always have one another’s backs, no matter how cold the winters might be, no matter how few mammoths were available to hunt, through thick and thin — with a lot of thin, to be sure. While harsh winters and mammoth deficits are no longer as disastrous to our survival as they once were, we must still have the dogs’ backs, because the nature of an agreement is that it does not change depending on the circumstances.

(Cats have their own deal with mankind: They will be fed, petted, played with, given furniture to sleep on, and loved, while in exchange they will do whatever they please. It is a somewhat more lopsided arrangement than what dogs made with us, but cats are clever animals and they very likely meant it to be that way. Nevertheless, a deal is a deal.)

There is a local group of people working very hard to ensure that we honor our primordial pacts. The Central Dakota Humane Society has operated their no-kill shelter in Mandan since 1994. Thanks to their volunteers’ tireless efforts and the support of the local community, they have so far taken in nearly 6,000 animals who would otherwise have had to live on the streets.

“We stand by to take in animals who need us, as space allows,” said Sue Buchholz, shelter director of the Central Dakota Humane Society. “We give them food, shelter, medical care, and love, and keep them for as long as it might take to find their forever homes. We’re blessed to be able to do what we do. We just wish we weren’t so busy all the time!

“Adopting a rescue animal is a very rewarding experience. While I would never speak ill of purebreds, mixed breeds have a unique vigor which gives them a lovely energy. Rescue animals are also extremely appreciative of their new surroundings. While you may not think it, a dog or a cat will remember how miserable they were going it on their own. They’ll thank you every day, in their own way, for pulling them out of so desperate a situation.

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“People love the feeling that they’re saving an animal’s life when they adopt from our shelter. What many people don’t realize is that when they do adopt from us, they’re also freeing up a spot that we can use to take another animal in. In that sense, adopting from us is like saving two animals — the one you take home, and the one that we’ll be able to shelter in their stead.

“Our commitment to our animals makes us a lot more involved in our adoption process than a pet store would be. We visit each adopter to get a better sense of their situation, and to make certain that it’s the best for the animal and the people involved. Because of our vetting we rarely receive an animal back. In fact, we see many of our previous adopters return when the time comes for them to take in a new pet. Being a part of such a special part of people’s lives is just one more reward we get for working here at the shelter.”

Your opportunities to help the Central Dakota Humane Society extend beyond adopting a good little friend to take home and love. They’re in perpetual need of the things you’d imagine having hundreds of dogs and cats would require, including paper towels, cleaning agents, and pet food. They also need things which you likely couldn’t pick up at Dan’s Supermarket, such as cat insulin and dog ear medicine — for these things they rely on generous cash donations from the community. To learn more about how we can all help to take care of our animal charges, visit cdhs.net.


By David Scheller