The Friends Of Animals Humane Society building in Cloquet is eerily empty as one employee is left to manage the front desk in the last days before it closes.
Director Mary Nelson flits from searching for files, to talking to media, to answering questions from concerned residents about the closing.
Several people showed up Tuesday, July 31, to adopt a cat from the shelter.
Shania Bush and Jordan Klumper arrived from Duluth to adopt Dot. They had a meet-and-greet with Dot over the weekend before deciding she would be a good fit as their first cat as adults.
"We saw the FOA newsletter on their website about the closing," Bush said. "We wanted to save an animal."
"She was playful and friendly and took a liking to us when we visited," Klumper added.
They packed the white and black short-haired cat into the pink cat carrier and brought Dot to her new home.
A man stopped in to ask if FOA received a check from his brother's estate. Luckily, FOA accountant Ken Muckala was there and was able to assist the man.
A Cloquet resident stopped in with a jar full of donations she had collected to help FOA with paying down its debt. She asked Nelson why the city was willing to build its own impound building instead of using the money to continue contracting impounds at FOA. Nelson said she did not have an answer and recommended the resident ask her council member.
As the resident left, another person came in to adopt a cat.
Three large dogs and seven cats still need homes. If they are not adopted by the evening of Friday, Aug. 3, the Humane Society of Douglas County will take them.
"I wish this wasn't happening," HSDC Director Shiela Keup said. "Shelters are introduced into a community for a reason: because there is a need."
She said she has a lot of concerns about FOA closing.
HSDC has received several calls recently from Cloquet as well as a few from Esko and Scanlon.
"We have had many calls from Carlton County," Keup said.
She said HSDC receives several calls a day from desperate people trying to do the right thing. A man from Scanlon called first thing Wednesday morning about a crying kitten on his front door step and he didn't know what to do. Others call about surrendering an animal.
"They do not surrender because they want to," Keup said. "They do it because they have to."
She explained that HSDC can't take animals from across state lines due to state laws.
FOA has raised $15,000 on its GoFundMe fundraising page. Nelson said the money will go toward paying off the mortgage and utilities. FOA is continuing to search for a tenant for the large office spaces upstairs.
Nelson said FOA is planning to keep its 501(c) nonprofit status in case it is able to reopen in the future. She stresses that at this time, there are no immediate plans to reopen in the building as the FOA or any type of Humane Society.
FOA will be open from noon to 6 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 3. Cat and dog adoptions are discounted $25 off the regular adoption price.