Skillet's Shelter

KULR (Cody)- With mold in the kennel walls, and cats crowded in tiny cages, Park County’s Animal Shelter in Cody needs new a new building.  The Shelter Board has raised the nearly two million dollars needed, but they’re getting over the last hump with help from a long time resident: a dog named Skillet.

Skillet is a white pit bull who has been at the shelter in Cody longer than anyone who works here.

 The woman who has worked the longest at the shelter, Valerie Swensrud, said, “He originally got here in 2011.”

Skillet was a fixture when she arrived.

She explained, “He had a couple of homes in the span of eight years...they did not work out.”

So he came back to the shelter.  Then, in 2017, Skillet was diagnosed with cancer.

Swensrud said, “And we felt that the best place was here, with the people that love him the most….and we will care for him and provide for him until the end.”

They were told Skillet wouldn’t last six months. Two years later, he still barks at rabbits, and naps on his bed in the office every day.   The staff decided to make a bucket list for him, and shelter supporters have made most of the wishes come true.

Swensrud listed some of them, “He did get to go on a fire truck, he had a spa day.”

“He’s had some kids come in and read to him.”

One item on the Bucket List depends on Skillet’s health.

Swensrud tearfully said, “And be in the fourth of July Parade.  And I really hope he makes it to that.”

But, even as he is winding down, Skillet is helping all the other animals in the shelter. A board member sent out an online request for donations, on behalf of Skillet, to build a new shelter. One that is sorely needed.

Shelter Operations Manager Stephanie Tarbett took us to a tiny room filled with kittens.

“And it has stacks of kittens in here in cages…we don’t have space to put them anywhere else. We have to use dog crates…”

Some of the kennels are closed because the walls are disintegrating. Tarbett said there’s mold in the walls, and no air conditioning at all in the front of the building, where cats and staff get overheated.

The President of the Shelter Board  of Directors, Ken Markert said, “Our cats are kept in two foot by two foot cages because we can’t put bigger cages in with the space we have.”

Markert said a five year long campaign raised almost all of the nearly two million dollars needed for a larger, safer shelter. Skillet’s Bucket List published online, is helping.

Markert explained, “And a lot of people are interested in that, and it’s a way for people to get familiar with the shelter and think about maybe contributing to the new building that will help many more animals like Skillet.”

Yellowstone Regional Airport’s board recently agreed to  release the land for the new shelter.  Markert said they will start building it next year. Staff members hope to name the new kennels after Skillet.

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