First kitty adopted from S.H.A.R.K.
Rachel Bowman had long been on the hunt for another Maine Coon to join her animal house, and after Einstein made his way to the Marathon animal shelter, his layover wound up being quite short.
“He’s huge!” laughed her mother, Lynn Kallfelz, who’s chauffeuring the cat now named Bartles to join his brothers, Jameson the Maine Coon cat and Beefeater (better known as Beefy) the English Bulldog.
Clutching the crate with the cat weighing at least a couple dozen pounds, she proclaimed, “This cat needs valet service!”
S.H.A.R.K. executive director Katie Bentley checked in with Lynn this week after Bartles’ first post-shelter vet visit to Dr. Mike Dunn while Animal Control officer Sean Yerger worked to get the beast back in his cage after his photo opp.
Since officially assuming the contract for animal control services, S.H.A.R.K. has also helped two dogs who were in foster care officially find their forever homes, and Skip Russo, a former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and law enforcement officer, who resides on Big Pine Key, has joined the staff.
“He’ll be patrolling five days a week for a few hours a day and responding to calls for loose dogs and other animals,” Bentley elaborated. “I know there was concern about the lack of a shelter down there, but he will be very accessible. There will also never be any animals left overnight.”
Though this is her first position as Executive Director, Bentley has long been hands-on with the animals in Marathon. She first joined the staff with SUFA and was then instrumental with the transition from temporary animal control provided by the Florida Keys ASPCA, she fits so well into her new position.
She’s hoping to resurrect a noted tradition of Saturday morning dog walks along the Old 7 Mile Bridge as well as adding Sunday morning walks.
“It gets the dogs out into a different environment and always really helped our adoptions,” she explained. “They get some great exercise, and people really enjoy it!”
Bentley is also encouraging residents and visitors interested in volunteering their time at the shelter to come by during normal business hours, Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 2 pm, to fill out a brief application.
“No training will be required if there is someone who wants to come help walk the dogs,” she noted, adding that the shelter is currently housing about half a dozen well-mannered pups eager for a friendly stroll. “If there are volunteers who want to do more specialized things like training or grooming around the shelter, then training will be available for them.”
She’s also been in contact with Independence Cay House Manager Adam Bell who’s hoping to bring in shelter residents to help brighten up the kennels with a fresh coat of paint. While the insurance paperwork was being processed, the Guidance and Care Clinic’s Keys to Recovery (KTR) Program for adults significantly challenged with independent living, were unable to come help exercise the sheltered animals; that’s also a community partnership Bentley and her board are hoping to resurrect.
SHARK is located at 10550 Aviation Blvd. and is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30-4:30, Saturday and Sunday from 11-2. The facility is currently on a waiting list for a shelter-feeding program and required to purchase food at full price. Any donations of wet or dry dog and cat food is welcomed and greatly appreciated. Donations dropped off after hours may be left at the front gate.