Friends of Animals Announces It’s Closing

FOA opened 34 years ago and helped care for thousands of animals.

CLOQUET, Minn. – In less than 30 days the Friends of Animals Humane Society in Cloquet will close its doors.

The announcement was made on a Facebook post Tuesday that left many in the community asking questions and wondering why.

For much of her life Friends of Animals (FOA) has been almost like a second home to Mary Nelson.

“I’ve been involved with this facility since I was a kid. I put my money in the buckets to help raise money for the shelter,” said Nelson.

She was named the interim director eight months ago and now she along with many others are facing the reality that the place she’s loved for so many years will soon close.

“2017 was really a rough year for us and ultimately that’s kind of what led to the decision, said Nelson. “There were just so many hurdles to get over.”

FOA in Cloquet plans to close no later than Aug. 5 after more than 30 years of serving the community and caring for thousands of animals.

The main reason for the closure is a substantial amount of debt.

The highest expense is the building.

“We had issues with the remodeling of the facility, which ultimately ended up giving us a mortgage and not allowing us to finish the facility,” said Nelson.

Another major expense is caring for the animals.

That came with a $400,000 price tag in the last year.

“Ultimately we would need a total to stay open of $350,000. That’s for operation through the end of the year and $150,000 to pay off our mortgage and finish it to healthy standards,” said Nelson. “What we’re really hoping to do with this closure is that it isn’t a forever, but for now. We’re trying to ensure that we keep this facility.”

City Administrator Aaron Reeves tells FOX21 the recent announcement came as a surprise.

Because the city was never given any indication things were this serious.

“Really we as a city, we didn’t know anything about the issue of the contractors, costs and things like that with the new facility,” said Reeves.

FOA already stopped accepting strays from the city and city officials believed that would help alleviate some of the financial burden.

“Clearly it’s not a good situation,” said Reeves. “I mean we had hoped we that we could somehow at some point work out something where they would continue to assist the city with strays.”

FOA currently has 15 cats and 20 dogs available for adoption like Bahama Mama here. And the top priority is finding them forever homes.

Moving forward Reeves says it will be up to the city council to decide on a permanent solution.

One option may be to open a city pound.

For now the city of Cloquet has a plan in place.

“We should be finished up I think this week with the two kennel facility. Our point with that was with FOA not taking any strays from the city that we needed a spot where if we have a stray that we could pick up; we’ll take it there,” said Reeves. “Where we’ll have a micro–chip reader if it has a tag. we’re going to put it on our police department Facebook page. We’re going to try to reunite it with the owner right away.”

Those kennels are temporary and can’t hold an animal for more than 24 hours.

Any other animal would be transferred to Animal Allies in Duluth.

“We’re going to have to look at amending an ordinance where we don’t deal with stray animals anymore,” said Reeves. “So if there is a stray or any issues like that citizens are kind of on their own. The city’s only going to deal with it if it’s a problem or dangerous animal.”

FOA remains hopeful.

Their fundraising committee is continuing to try and raise money to pay the bills with a rummage sale and Beastie Bash.

“With the public appeal we’re hoping to be able to raise seed money so that when we do come back or if we come back we would have the money to do that for the business,” said Nelson.

FOA will continue to make updates on its Facebook page, click here.

FOA has a GoFundMe page set up, click here.

You can contact Friends of Animals at foaupdates@gmail.com or Friends of Animals, P.O. Box. 706, Cloquet, Minnesota 55720.

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