REED CITY - New Horizons Humane Society, which recently opened a thrift store and pet food bank in Reed City, is looking to expand its services to the community. "There is a big problem with cats in Reed City," said Miguel Troche, president of NHHS. "We have people calling us reporting that people dump their cat litters thinking they will get fed. Animal Control has a waiting list to take in abandoned animals." "We need something in place where we can pick up an animal and take it in and try to get it the help it needs," he added. Troche said the Osceola County Animal Control Office is not adequately equipped to handle the number of abandoned animals, and currently has a long waitlist for animal intake. "The fact that ACO has a waiting list for taking in animals prompts owners to abandon their animals in the woods or on local farms or at apartment complexes," Troche said. "Humane laws are not being enforced like they should. People are getting way with dumping off cats in the woods. We should be able to partner with other rescue groups to be able to find adequate homes for these animals." He added they would like to meet with the Michigan Humane Society to voice their concerns about humane law violations in the community and find resources to enforce them. "They (Michigan Humane) are an established agency with humane law enforcement officers, and we want to know how we can implement that in our community," Troche said. "Eventually, we would like to have a humane law enforcement officer in our organization to follow up on animal abuse complaints. "To do that, we would want to operate under the SPCA and certain statutes they have," he added. "We can investigate a complaint as a humane society, but we would like to have a division of the state program implemented here to enable us to enforce animal abuse laws." Right now, when NHHS get a call from someone who wants to surrender their animal, they call on foster homes to take them in until other arrangements can be made, he added. "We are interested in approaching the city about the possibility of using the former Old Rugged Cross Museum building for our services," he said. "We would use the building for a pet shelter and a spay and neuter clinic. We could also offer low-cost vaccinations to residents. The trap-spay\/neuter-return program would also be run out of there in conjunction with the Wonderland Humane Society in Wexford County." The plan would be to lease the property from the city for $750 a month and pay all utility expenses, including trash, sewer and water and snow removal. "We do not want to cost the city anything," Troche said. "We would carry our own renter's insurance and would waive all potential liability for the city. Should the city agree to the proposal, we would give priority to Reed City residents for animal intake and the resources we have available." Troche said they would eventually like to be able to purchase two or three acres and build a new facility that would include an animal resource center, thrift store, pet food bank, low cost spay and neuter clinic, a memorial garden and a dog park, so the lease would only be for two or three years. "I don't like the shelter concept," Troches said. "I try to do everything I can to leave the animal at home. If it is an issue with feeding the animal, we will provide food. If it is an issue with vaccinations, we pay for the vaccinations. If it is an issue with behavior, we will try to get a dog trainer to donate some time to work with the animal so that the owner can keep it. We are more of a resource center more than anything else. We try to help people find the resources they need." NHHS services Lake and Mecosta counties as well as Osceola County residents, Troche said. They currently have foster homes in Evart, Cadillac, Chase and Big Rapids and have 30 cats awaiting adoption. Anyone interested in adopting a cat may visit the NHHS website at newhorizonhumane.org. Troche added that the organization is working to bring awareness of the issue of abandoned animals and would like to remind pet owners of the importance of spaying and neutering and microchipping their pets. They will have a spay\/neuter clinic July 29. The charge is $60. Animals can be dropped off and picked up at the New Horizons Humane Society building at 205 W. Upton St. in Reed City. Interested pet owners should contact NHHS at newhorizonhumane.org or call 231-995-7940. NHHS representatives will present their proposal for rental of the former museum property to the city council during its next meeting at 7 p.m., July 19, in the council chambers at city hall. For more information about the meeting visit reedcity.org or call 231-832-2245.