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Cloquet's Friends of Animals to close

The Friends of Animals' new facility of a little over a year. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

After a series of financial setbacks last year, the Friends of Animals Humane Society in Cloquet made the decision to close its doors by Aug. 5, according to interim director Mary Nelson. It is no longer accepting strays effective immediately.

"I came on board eight months ago as interim director to see if we were sustainable and could become a viable business," Nelson said.

In the end, there were just too many hurdles to overcome, she said. However, there is hope that the closing will be temporary.

"We want to focus on paying the bills first, then paying the mortgage off and finish off the work that was not completed," Nelson said.

The shelter is working to find homes in the next 30 days for approximately 20 cats and a dozen dogs. Some of the cats are not altered, so they can't be adopted out. They will be sent to other "no-kill" shelters.

The board's hope is that by closing voluntarily, they may be able to keep the facility and reopen at a later date. Several costs are eliminated by the closing including payroll, animal care, veterinary bills, animal supplies and utilities. The total saved in a six-month time frame would be about $170,859, according to the statement of revenue and expenses for July to December 2017.

After a few false starts at the end of 2016 to sell the outdated shelter it had called home for the past 18 years, the FOA finally settled for a much lower price than it had originally asked for. A series of unexpected remodeling expenses and issues with a contractor whose bid came in a double the original quote put the organization further into the red. The move left FOA with a $100,000 debt. It currently owes $90,000.

Outbreaks of parvovirus and ringworm among the animals added to expenses. They spent over $400,000 on treating the sick animals.

For more information or questions about adopting, call (218) 879-1655 until Aug. 5. For problems with strays, call 911.

To read more about this story, see the Cloquet Pine Journal.