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GARY | The Humane Society of Northwest Indiana in the Miller Beach neighborhood is in dire need of adoptive families, volunteers and donations.

“We’re at capacity and literally have no cages left. We need people who will give these cats, kittens, dogs and puppies good, permanent homes,” said Betty Clayton, executive director of the shelter at 6100 Melton Road.

“They have great personalities, and they are healthy,” she said Monday, looking at the wall of cages with cats and kittens in the shelter’s lobby.

A gray kitten stretched and rolled on her back in her cage. Just below her, an adult cat with a subtle blend of gray and faint white stripes slept with one paw sticking out of a space in the cage door.

As staff and volunteers checked the canine areas, a chorus of barks and yips erupted. Tails wagged and tongues eagerly licked the hands of those who stopped to see the dogs.

On Monday, the small well-maintained shelter was temporary home to 40 kittens, 18 cats, 25 puppies and 20 adult dogs. Some are ready for loving homes. Others are being treated for abuse and neglect.

“Two weeks ago, we took in a small dog that some boys were throwing against a train and broke its jaw. We are trying to raise funds to help it,” said Clayton, who seeks charges against animal abusers. “Many people do not realize what all we do for the animals.”

Despite the crunch, this Humane Society is clean with no lingering odor of animals. The animals are all housed in cages that are cleaned repeatedly through the day as needed. Litter boxes aren’t scooped; the litter is completely changed.

The economy plays a major role in the number of animals at the shelter and the lack of adoptive families, Clayton said.

“When you have trouble paying the rent, you can’t afford to adopt an animal. It works the other way. That’s one reason we have so many animals. People can’t afford to take care of them,” she said.

The shelter’s location also seems to work against it, she said.

“We’re in a depressed area. People hear 'Gary,' and they think it’s a dump, a ram-shackled building with sick animals,” Clayton said. “Humans worry about borders. Animals know no borders. All they want is a good home and to be loved.”

Yet there is an adoption process with an application, and the shelter does deny adoptions.

“Not every home is a good home,” she said.

Monetary donations help this shelter help animals.

“It costs $15,000 a month to run this shelter properly. We receive no funding from local, state or federal sources. Nor do we get anything from national groups,” Clayton said. “So many wonderful people help by donating to us. But we live the life of a not-for-profit.”

For more information about adopting animals, log on to www.petfinder.com. To help the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana, go to www.millercritters.net or call (219) 938-3339.

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Features Editor

Regional News Editor