Adoptable pets pit bull Nubi (left) and Zoe.
MITCHELL — Nestled in the woods among several acres of the Dial Company’s property lies the only no-kill animal shelter for miles. The Association for the Protection of Animals, or APA, of Granite City has been sitting back, hidden, yet working hard day and night to keep stray and abused animals alive and hopefully, adopted.
Surprisingly, some local residents have no idea it even exists.
In 1972, the APA began taking in stray dogs and cats to be put up for adoption. Once the agency became a fully nonprofit organization in the mid-1970s, the property owners donated the land to the agency and its volunteers. Currently, the APA has seven employees and many volunteers. All board members volunteer time and energy to keep the animals healthy and safe.
GCAPA Vice President Patty Rose said the shelter operates differently than other shelters in the area. Because it is not funded by any government entities, it is allowed to operate at its discretion, meaning it does not euthanize animals just to “make room for more.”
The “no-kill” policy does not mean euthanization never happens, but the shelter tries every way possible to avoid it, unlike the dog pound or other shelters that operate under government sanctions. These facilities are required to euthanize their animals after a certain time period has passed.
When a sick or badly injured animal is brought to the APA, the shelter provides veterinarian services to nurse the animal back to complete health. All shots are given to each animal and all are either spayed or neutered and given a microchip. Each month, every dog is given heartworm medication and all animals are treated with flea prevention medication.
Vet bills, prescriptions and care and maintenance are heavy loads for the shelter each month. Rose estimates the APA’s monthly budget is between $18,000 and $22,000. Since the shelter operates solely on donations, the volunteers are often planning community events to raise funds throughout the year.
Every other month, the shelter hosts a taco sale fundraiser. From noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, you can purchase tacos at the AMVETS hall in Madison, 711 Kennedy Drive. All proceeds go directly to help the animals at the shelter. Another fun event hosted by the APA is Cosmic Bingo night. This is not your average bingo game. It’s more of a party, featuring a DJ, black lights, cosmic neon dabbers and a cosmic hat.
“Everyone has a terrific time,” GCAPA President Nancy Hall said. “Although proceeds benefit the APA, you can win money. We give away 10 rounds of $100 prizes, which are donated by local business sponsors and individuals.”
Hall, who is currently retired from the workforce, has been with the APA for 12 years. She says she has always loved animals and has adopted several pets herself. When people are a little “put off” by the adoption fees charged by the APA, Hall said they have to realize the APA is not making money, only trying to recoup some of the costs it has taken to care for the animal and get it ready for adoption.
“Although vets give us discounts, it’s extremely expensive for all the medical assistance we give the animals,” Hall said. “We usually lose money or break even when it comes to adoption fees.”
Although the costs are high for animal care, the work done by APA volunteers is priceless. A local Girl Scout troop built the APA a new concrete pad and an Eagle Scout troop built two new sheds on the property. The shelter is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for deep cleaning (but you can still call for information), and they are open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
Rose said she feels it is important for residents to be aware they are available to help people find animals to adopt and to care for orphaned animals. There is only so much room for animals on the property, so sometimes the shelter is full and can no longer house any more animals.
“We want people’s perceptions to change somewhat,” Rose said. “There are other options for people if we are at full capacity. We can’t save every single one, but we will help those we can. It is against the law to dump an animal, even at the APA if we are full.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture could, at any time, inspect the facility and if it is found to be over capacity the department could shut it down. Rose said they refer people to a website, metroanimal.org, that lists many other local shelters that may be able to help when the APA cannot.
A featured adoptable dog is Nubi, a large pit bull. Rose said Nubi needs someone who is versed in the breed, knowing how to care for a pit bull. She needs a lot of room to run around and needs someone able to handle such a large pet. Her favorite toy is a tire swing she likes to bite and swing around, and Rose said she would be great for a family familiar with pit bulls.
“One tip we offer residents is if they find a stray dog or cat running around, to contact us first rather than the pound,” Rose said. “We may be able to put the pet back with the owner without that time clock ticking waiting to get rid of the animal.”
The hardest time for the APA, Hall said, is right now. Between March and October, adoptions are slow because of vacations and summer activities. December is the shelter’s most profitable month, as people seem to be more giving and heartfelt around the holidays, she said.
If you are interested in adopting a pet, volunteering or donating, you may contact the APA in person at 5000 Old Alton Road. Donations are accepted during normal business hours. Certain items are always desperately needed such as dye-free dog and cat food, blankets, towels, bleach, dog shampoo and scoopable cat litter. Treats such as pig ears and rawhides also can get some droopy tails wagging.
For more information, including adoptable animals and fees and how to become a volunteer, visit www.gcapa.org or call (618) 931-7030.