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Delivering for dogs — and cats

POSTED: October 31, 2013 7:51 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Mark Malke presents a 20-pound bag of cat food to Patti Studier and Calvin Morris of the Effingham County Animal Shelter. In hopes of raising awareness about the shelter, Malke donated 20 bags, totaling 1,100 pounds, of dog and cat food.

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Mark Malke visited the Effingham County Animal Shelter a couple weeks ago in hopes of finding his missing cat, Markie.


The cat wasn’t there, but Malke saw something else that stuck with him.


“The shelter was very clean, and the staff was very friendly,” Malke said. “I really wanted to create awareness for the shelter.”


So, he dropped by the shelter again on Tuesday — this time with a 1,100-pound contribution. He donated 20 55-pound bags of dog and cat food.


“Walking through there that day and looking at all those homeless pets, it just makes your heart bleed for them,” Malke said. “I just wanted to do something for them. I’ve been blessed and I want to pass it on.”


The shelter was housing 84 animals when Malke visited on Tuesday, according to administrative assistant Calvin Morris. That is well below the shelter’s capacity of 167, but could change at any moment.


The shelter has at times been “overflowing” with animals, Morris said. The reason is typically a sudden spike in the number of feral cats brought to the shelter.


“We get 10, 15, 20 cats a day sometimes,” Morris said. “People bring in stray cats and say, ‘I just found them in the back yard,’ or, ‘This cat had kittens under my barn or under my porch.’”


Since the shelter will never have a shortage of animals — and its population can fluctuate dramatically — the need for people like Malke to help is always there, Morris said. Donations of food or cleaning supplies are always appreciated.


One helpful step recently was the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office launching a Facebook page devoted solely to its Humane Enforcement Division. The page is used to post up-to-date information on missing animals, including photos of animals that have been picked up and taken to the shelter.


“I’ve seen a great response from it,” Morris said. “It helped us get animals that were lost back to their owners quicker, and it helped get the stray animals that were adoptable out quicker as well.”


Malke hopes to continue to raise awareness of the shelter. He said, since his initial visit there two weeks ago, he has had conversations with several people at his restaurant, Alibi’s in Rincon, and elsewhere around town — and he is surprised by the response he often receives.


“A lot of people who live in this county don’t even know the shelter is here,” Malke said. “People born and raised here ask me, ‘Where’s the shelter?’”


For the record, it’s located at 307 Highway 119 North in Springfield and is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Animal adoption hours are 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 2-4:30 p.m. on Thursday.


Many of the dogs housed in the Effingham County Animal Shelter are large breeds, so they will chew through Malke’s donation quickly. Staff member Patti Studier told him all the 55-pound bags of dog food will be gone in about a week.


“Maybe a week-and-a-half if we really stretch it, and we don’t have a surplus of animals. We have a lot of animals that come through here, and you can never tell how many,” Studier said.


“Wow, I thought it would go longer than that,” Malke said.

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