Second chances for our most faithful companions. 

Our foster program is one of the most powerful tools we have to save animal lives. We are always in need of people who can take cats, kittens, dogs or puppies. We will provide the tools you need to succeed, including all medical care. You just provide the love!

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Rotness: ‘Giving back is always better than taking’

Tina Rotness of Chisholm is pictured with one of the animals at the Precious Paws Humane Society. Rotness was recently named a U.S. Steel Service Champion for her volunteer efforts at Precious Paws.

CHISHOLM — Dealing with a feral cat that had moved into her doghouse five years ago led Tina Rotness of Chisholm to a deep love of the Precious Paws Humane Society of Chisholm and the pets there. It was winter at the time and Rotness brought it into the shelter. Her involvement with Precious Paws hasn’t ceased since that day.

“I just fell in love with the way the organization was run and that day I asked for a volunteer application and I’ve been there ever since,’’ Rotness, who also works at Minntac, said.

For her dedication and commitment to the animals and Precious Paws, Rotness won a Service Champion award last month from U.S. Steel, which includes $5,000 going to her charity of choice (Precious Paws). The award handed out last month was one of two handed out to Minntac employees and just two of 12 given nationwide at U.S. Steel facilities. Jeremy Dickson of Zim was the other local winner for his efforts with Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest.

“My husband and I had three cats at the time (five years ago) ourselves.’’ Right now, that is down to one 17-year-old cat. “We’ve always been real big advocates of pets and we’ve always tried to donate to other causes.’’

Before Rotness realized Precious Paws was in Chisholm, she and her husband always tried to donate to other shelters. “Just because we know it’s hard for these animals. They can’t speak for themselves. Somebody’s got to be their voice.’’

“Far too many animals are abandoned with no way to fend for themselves,’’ she wrote for the Service Champion presentation. “Our organization is a no kill shelter that is 100% volunteer run and we operate solely on fundraising, through donations and pet donations. We use the funds to vet these animals, spay and neuter and find them safe homes.’’

Despite dedicating the last five years to the pets, Rotness was surprised to be honored by U.S. Steel, where she is the safety clerk for Minnesota Ore Operations (Minntac and Keetac).

“I was kind of blown away with the service award,’’ she said, especially since two from Minntac won. Compared to all the other properties there are, she considered it quite an honor.

“We had two of us who went above and beyond with our dedication to our causes. It was good that we actually got recognized for it.’’

Rotness and Precious Paws have definite plans for the $5,000 she won for the charity. “What we’re hoping to do is create a new program within our community called Seniors for Seniors Fostering.’’ She has found that senior citizens love to have a pet but they don’t want to pay to adopt it.

The new program will take on the expense of bringing cats or dogs (often older themselves) into the homes of senior citizens so they can have a dog or a cat again.

Precious Paws will pay for food and supplies for the life of the animal, while also covering all the veterinary bills and any apartment pet deposits. “All they have to do is provide the love,’’ Rotness said. Having a pet around is especially helpful for seniors who might be in physical therapy or rehabbing injuries. “They just like to have an animal around them. It keeps them motivated.’’

The biggest reason for Rotness’ surprise in getting the award was that the shelter is very small. Up until November, Precious Paws was 100 percent operated by volunteers only. The previous manager passed away in July, Rotness said, which is when she was asked to come in as an interim manager.

After deciding to do it, she worked full-time at Minntac and would then go to the shelter each day to work several hours trying to keep “everything up and running,’’ Rotness said. However, it came to the point where she couldn’t do both at the same time and Precious Paws hired a manager (Carrie Nelson) at 20 hours per week.

While the shelter is fairly small, about 170-200 animals come through the doors every year.

“We pretty much operate just on donations, on pet adoptions and fundraising,’’ Rotness said. Precious Paws also has a contract with the city of Chisholm ($50 per animal) when animals come in as strays. “Other than that we’re pretty much on our own.’’

Rotness was proud to say no animal leaves the property without being fully vetted, getting vaccinations and being spayed or neutered. Once that is done, the goal is get get each animal the best possible home because “they’ve been through enough when they come in as a stray.’’

After taking in three pregnant cats last year, 21 kittens were born at the end of July and Rotness personally took 14 of them to the Twin Cities in November to get spayed and neutered. The trip was necessary due to COVID-19 and so many veterinarians not doing spaying and neutering, she added.

Rotness recently did the same thing with a group of 20 cats. “We just can’t wait and send them home without making arrangements for them to get spay and neutered.’’

Finding finds for the trips is often a challenge.

“We definitely rely on donations and fundraising and that sort of stuff to keep us afloat. We seem to be doing a pretty good job.’’

Besides taking care of the animals, Rotness and other volunteers spend their own money for needed repairs. “We do pretty much of our own repairs. We’re pretty self sufficient.’’

Fundraising is currently underway for new windows, while an Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency grant has been secured for part of the roof repair.

While Rotness is on the Precious Paws board of directors and acting as the co-manager until the new manager is trained in, she isn’t looking for personal recognition.

She said the pets and volunteers should get the recognition. “I always say ‘We’ instead of ‘I,’ ’’ Rotness said, because “giving back is always better than taking.’’

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Pet Adoption