As president of Mending Spirits Animal Rescue, Kristy Olson has her hands full helping find homes for homeless dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and everything in between

When you think of animal shelters and rescue operations in the Mankato Area, you’d naturally think of the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society, which does great work finding homes for hundreds of animals every year.

But BENCHS isn’t the only organization helping animals.

Mending Spirits Animal Rescue, founded in 2013, has built itself into a respectable and legitimate animal rescue organization in its own right, and Kristy Olson has been involved with MARS since its inception.

Olson, President of MSAR, said there isn’t a day that goes by that she’s not doing something for an animal or an animal foster family, or something else.

We caught up with Olson during a week when she was busy organizing a shipment of dogs coming into MSAR from Alabama.

MANKATO MAGAZINE: What’s the most challenging part of running an animal rescue organization?

KRISTY OLSON: TIME — Balancing working a 60-hour-a-week job with having a relentless passion to save animals’ lives every free moment I get. I do rescue 24/7 and there has not been a single day I have not done my rescue roles in over 6 years.

MM: Without a facility, where do your dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. live while waiting to be adopted?

KO: In loving, compassionate foster homes where the providers are well-paired for the animal they commit to, which parallels with the provider's abilities, preferences and experiences.

MM: How many animals do you adopt out each year?

KO: It depends on our overall animal intake for the year but usually about 350-400 or so.

MM: Mending Spirits just took in a large group of dogs from Alabama. How does it happen that dogs from Alabama end up at a foster-based rescue in Minnesota?

KO: They end up here because the need is extremely high both locally and in southern areas of our country. Overpopulation is a big problem in the South and there is limited resources for pet owners. We, with open arms, help where we can.

Often it is word of mouth that connects rescues and shelters with animals in need. Animal advocates scour social media and network amongst many people. There are so many people involved in an eclectic network to enable the rescue of an animal. It is truly an incredible process that involves teamwork to make it possible, both locally and from afar.

A positive reputation is important and associations are generated by others observing the strides that take place by an organization. Advocates see that an organization may frequently welcome the animals that no one wants and other rescues may refrain from such as behavioral cases, seniors, medicals, certain breeds etc. This is notable in the rescue world and quickly advocates and members in the animal community parallel an organization with what they are actively doing.

There is also an approval process that rescues and shelters who help these animals must comply with. We have to show that we are in good standing, a legit organization, are a non-profit, supply references, adhere and show we maintain standards and policies that are in the animal's best interest such as home visits, quality vet care, spaying and neutering before adoption. There is a LOT of time involved in coordinating and securing an animal into care.

MM: How reliant is Mending Spirits on fundraising and donors?

KO: In 2019, 73% of our funding came from adoption fees while the remaining 27% is from fundraising/donations. We need to increase our fundraising so we can secure a location to store our supplies and perform intakes. All we have is a 10 by 12 shed to store items along with kind volunteers allowing us the use of their homes.

MM: What’s the craziest thing that has happened regarding an animal in Mending Spirits’ care?

KO: We had a German Shepherd named Atlas that came into care that was rescued from a reservation. Someone tried to shoot him on the reservation and he was found still alive and wounded. We lovingly took him into care and noticed he had a constant nasal infection that would wax and wane. Upon Xrays, it was discovered he had a canine tooth that was almost 3 inches long and decaying inside his sinus cavity. He had in-depth surgery to have it removed. It was a strange and unexpected thing to find, sort of a medical mystery.

MM: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

KO: I am allergic to cats and dogs but that does not prevent me from rescuing, owning or loving them all.

MM: Does Mending Spirits have any adoption events coming up?

KO: Our next adoption event is 12-2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Pet Expo in Mankato. We also have Yoga and a Pint, 10 a.m. Jan. 18 at Mankato Brewery with yogi Layla; bring your own mat ($10 for an hour of Yoga and pint of your choice after).

— Compiled by Robb Murray

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