by Dennis Dalman
In her six years as the owner of Lucky’s Place, Janet Hansmeier has made a lot of cats happy – not to mention the happy families who adopted them from her cat shelter.
That’s 500 happy cats and several hundred families, including some in the St. Joseph and Sartell areas.
Hansmeier’s non-profit Lucky’s Place has a “no euthanasia” policy, and there are no fees for adoptions. Such policies are unique to central Minnesota. All cats at Lucky’s Place are spayed or neutered and vaccinated before being given to adoptive families.
Hansmeier has always loved animals, but her passion for cats intensified suddenly about 10 years ago, thanks to a stray cat she later named Lucky. The cat had been hit by a vehicle in the road. Severely injured, its face was terribly lacerated. Hansmeier’s heart just about broke when she saw the injured cat – a cat she didn’t know at the time. She took it to a veterinarian who said it would be quite expensive to make the creature well again and to fix its battered face. Hansmeier did not even consider the cost. She told the veterinarian to go ahead and do the surgery.
Back home at the Hansmeier’s, it took the cat many weeks to heal, but through all of that time it had tender-loving care from the family members and their friends and relatives. The cat would purr with cozy contentment as its new people friends made a fuss over it. They decided there was only one possible name for the lucky cat: Lucky.
It was about that time Hansmeier began pondering the idea of opening a cat shelter on her small farm property. About seven years ago, she remodeled an older building on the premises, refashioning it into a warm and pleasant cat shelter. From the beginning she decided no cat at her shelter would ever be euthanized, no matter what. And she has kept that vow. Many of the cats who came to her shelter needed all kinds of special attention and medical care as some had been abused, abandoned or neglected. But the extra love and attention paid off because cats who have suffered are so eager to have caring human beings in their lives.
Hansmeier, who also takes care of some horses, has about 20 cats at any given time. She is grateful for all of the volunteer help she receives from fellow cat-lovers. There are about 20 people who pitch in with chores – feeding, cleaning, transporting – on a regular basis. Hansmeier is also grateful for the many contributions she receives since she does not receive a penny of any agency or governmental funding. Most of the costs at the shelter are borne by she and her husband from the wages they make from their day jobs. She works in the insurance field; her husband, Gordon, is an attorney in St. Cloud. Their three grown children are also supportive of the shelter.
Hansmeier and her volunteers also have what they call “Lucky’s University” periodically in which entire families can learn about pets, pet needs and pet care while interacting therapeutically with horses and cats. Hansmeier also works with the Anna Marie’s Alliance, based in St. Cloud, for foster care of cats for women and families in crisis situations.
Hansmeier, during an interview with the Newsleader, said she don’t know what she would do without generous help from the Boysen Animal Hospital of Waite Park, who does all the veterinary work for Lucky’s Place; and Sam and Danni’s Pet Spa of St. Cloud, which helps hugely with food and donations.
“They are so very, very helpful,” she said. “We appreciate them so much.”
Hansmeier has never once tried to compete with humane societies. She does what she does because she sees the need for it and because she loves helping cats, especially those who badly need special love and care, like Lucky did.
They also appreciate every contribution people send them, no matter how small.
Contributions are possible on the Lucky’s Place website, www.luckysplace.org. There is also a wish list of pressing cat-care needs on the website.
People can also send a check made out to “Lucky’s Place,” addressed to “Lucky’s Place,” 1550 95th Ave. NE, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379.
To find out more about Lucky’s University, call its program manager Andrea Rahm at 320-260-4805.