Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

The Humane Society of Del Norte has no problem taking in stray cats, something this area has in abundance.

"On average we take in 300 cats a year," said Danielle Larsen-Wheeler, president and manager of the society. "We've spayed and neutered 1,040 cats and dogs in Del Norte County, both shelter animals and owned animals. We provide a huge community service."

The bigger challenge is taking in enough money to keep the operation going.

That's why the society was so grateful when Sandy Hooper's fourth- and fifth-grade combined class from Pine Grove Elementary School held a walk-a-thon recently and raised $665 for the shelter.

"It's great for the kids to do that, to help the animals," said Danielle, who startedvolunteering with the Wild Feline Rescue 18 years ago and with the society 16 years ago.

Its shelter at 821 Elk Valley Road is completely volunteer-run.

"Funding is by donations, fundraising and occasional grants, as well as a few monthly donors that help out a lot," said Danielle.

Those fundraisers include the annual Coastal Canine Olympics, an auction, garage sales and poker tournaments four times a year, as well as an annual newsletter.

For its 30th anniversary in May, Danielle wants to do a "Dancing with the Stars" for Del Norte. She's looking to come up with 10 competing couples.

"I'm hoping it's something everyone loves and enjoys. I'm excited."

It's all for the best of causes.

"We have such a huge pet overpopulation," said Danielle. "People dump animals at the beach or in the woods. We help people who can't even afford $1. We'll help anyone who needs to get their pet fixed. We fixed about 50 or more cats from the harbor and surrounding area.

"If they're healthy they live their lives out here. We euthanize only if they're sick or injured. 'No kill' means you don't put down a cat just to make room for others. We have four old-timers."

The shelter's spay and neuter program is "one of the most important things to me; it's my mission."

Danielle says shelter vice president Eileen Bennett is a big help in fulfilling that mission.

"She's amazing. She got us a $14,000 feral cat grant. We were able to fix over 250 stray, feral and 'loosely-owned' cats.

"We have no paid staff. And sometimes andndash; a lot of the time andndash; we use our own money. The county dog pound and vets tell people to call us. But we can't do everything. We do what we can and for an all-volunteer organization, we get a lot done."

To help, or simply get more information about the shelter, call 464-1686, go to or check out its Facebook page.