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      Animal shelter expands with community help

      An Isabella County animal shelter is breaking ground on an expansion, which officials hope will curb the number of cats and dogs coming into the facility.

      The Humane Animal Treatment Society (H.A.T.S.) is breaking ground for the Isabella County/Humane Animal Treatment Society Health Clinic.

      The new facility will offer spay and neuter services to pet owners who cannot afford the medical treatment elsewhere. Executive Director of H.A.T.S., Jill Irving, said making the health services available will make a difference at the shelter, which sees about 3,000 dogs and cats each year.

      The $300,000. cost of the addition is being raised through grants and private donations. The year-long campaign has reached 75-percent of its goal, so officials wanted to get the project started to make it available during the busy spring months at the shelter.

      "This year is the first year in the past ten that we will drop below the 3,000 mark. We are looking at 2,800 animals this year, which is the driving force for the spay and neuter clinic so we can continue to see that impact," said Jill Irving.

      H.A.T.S. currently operates the Isabella County Animal Shelter for Isabella County. The addition of the Health Clinic will be the first of its kind from the region.