By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Morrison County Animal Humane Society (MCAHS) has hired a new executive director. Connie Bursey, a Royalton resident, said she is very excited about the job.
“I have so many ideas on improving the site, I can hardly wait to get them going and see them to completion,” she said.
For eight years, Bursey worked in a business environment in both a psychologist’s office and with a payroll and accounting firm. She has also been involved with 4-H dog projects for approximately four years and as a key leader and trainer for three years. Her goal was showing 4-H members how to train their dogs.
For the past two years, she has not had a full-time job, but worked as the Royalton Fire Department’s Relief Association’s gambling manager.
She is also a huge, self-proclaimed, animal lover.
Bursey’s duties as the executive director of the MCAHS include ensuring procedures are correctly done.
“Sanitation is important in an animal shelter,” she said. “I make sure everything is clean and sanitized. I am in charge of five other employees which include Rene Kono, the manager on the front desk and Pam Helmin who manages the animal care.”
Bursey also takes care of all the hiring and each animal’s intake paperwork, making sure they get the medications needed.
Bursey has been working on overhauling the volunteer program at the shelter. She is implementing training to learn about exercising animals and spending time with them to acclimate them to people. She would also like her volunteers to be able to teach the animals some obedience skills.
“Our volunteers need to learn the personalities of each animal. I want them to understand when an animal could become aggressive. They need to be able to read the animal,” she said. “I would also like my volunteers to know when an animal is in pain or is stressed.”
Bursey is also looking at implementing a program to document each animal’s behavior to best match them with their forever homes.
“We will give prospective pet owners a questionnaire to fill out to make the match,” she said. “I think that will shorten the stay of each animal. But, if we feel the fit is not good for the animal or the possible owner, we will not allow the adoption.”
The shelter itself will be undergoing a change. The cats will be moved to an area with windows, giving them the natural light they crave.
“It will help alleviate any stress,” Bursey said. “The floors will be redone to something more homey, yet with the ability to be kept sterile.”
The changes to the interior of the building are expected to create a better flow for the intake, quarantine and adoption of the animals. It will also be better suited to prevent the spread of diseases.
“The MCAHS has a fabulous board,” Bursey said. “Each member wants to make it a great environment for the animals, on a short-term basis, and a comfortable place for our customers.”
The MCAHS has set up Pet Adoption Days at Tractor Supply in Little Falls. An area is set up showing off the animals available for adoption. All the paperwork is on hand so the new pet owners may just take their animal home. It’s an instant adoption.
Soon the MCAHS will be able to put microchips in the adopted animals. The software is on order. It currently has a microchip reader that can access information about a lost animal. The shelter is then able to locate the owner and reunite them with their pet.
And, through a grant, the MCAHS will soon be offering music for the animals at the shelter. Bursey is not yet sure what type of music the cats and dogs will like, but will enjoy finding out.
The MCAHS partners with the Golden Valley Human Society to place the animals. It also works with the Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare and Pause for Paws, a non-profit that helps raise funds to spay and neuter animals and to defray the cost of facility updates.
Bursey and her husband Duane have two daughters, Laura and Naomi, four dogs and seven barn cats.
Currently, the MCAHS is looking for more volunteers to make blankets and help with fundraisers. To learn about these opportunities, call the shelter at (320) 632-0703, or go to www.mcpets.org.
The MCAHS is open Monday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m.