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For Belle’s Sake rescues pets in need

Submitted Photos Rescued dogs and cats, pictured, are cared for at For Belle’s Sake in Sawyer.

SAWYER — A home without animals wouldn’t be a home for Christian and Shelby Bird, the founders of the For Belle’s Sake rescue in rural Sawyer.

Shelby Bird said she grew up on a ranch, while her husband grew up in a one-pet household. They adopted their first dog from the pound not long after they married.

“An animal has always been in our family,” said Shelby Bird. “It was just the natural beginning to our family.”

It wasn’t long afterwards they started fostering animals and, a few years later, started the 501(C)(3) animal rescue For Belle’s Sake.

“We really got heavily into rescues in 2011 and then we incorporated as a non-profit in 2014,” said Shelby Bird. “From 2011 to 2014, we were doing it solely out of pocket.”

Submitted Photos Rescued dogs and cats, pictured, are cared for at For Belle’s Sake in Sawyer.

The couple said they were advised to launch the non-profit so they would be able to receive donations to fund the rescue.

Both Birds serve in the U.S. Air Force and had started the rescue when they were stationed in South Carolina.

“When we moved up here, we thought we would be shutting For Belle’s Sake,” said Shelby Bird, but they quickly discovered that there was a great need for an animal rescue in the area.

The rescue now operates with five separate buildings. One is for cats and also functions as a meet and greet area for people who hope to adopt a pet. Two buildings are strictly for canines. The facility has been undergoing an expansion and remodel project to better accommodate all of the rescued animals.

Donations help run the facility, which also benefits from a core of dedicated volunteers. There are about six regular volunteers and more who come forward to help on dedicated volunteer days.

“When we reach out for help, they’re there,” said Shelby Bird, who said some of the volunteers are people who previously adopted a pet from the rescue, saw the need and wanted to help.

There are always more animals in need showing up at different times and in different places.

The Birds had gone on a camping trip with their four children earlier this month but also made time to take care of a kitten that had been dropped off the night before.

On average, the Birds and their volunteers have dozens of dogs and cats in its care that have been surrendered by their owners, rescued from high-kill animal shelters, or have been found as strays.

The rescue’s website, forbellessake.org, has photos of adoptable dogs and cats, application forms with requirements for adopting one of the pets and a wish list of items needed by all the pets at For Belle’s Sake.

Some of the items that are most needed are dog food, puppy food, cat food, kitten food, dewormers, bleach, pet toys, towels, cat litter and monetary donations that help pay to spay and neuter the pets and for the veterinary care that they need. Volunteers can also arrange to help care for the animals.

The Birds save a lot of animals, who have found happy homes, but sometimes an animal has insurmountable health or behavior challenges and there is no other choice but to euthanize them. Shelby Bird said it is hardest when an animal must be euthanized because its behavior makes it a danger.

The animal rescue is dedicated to transparency, so donors know how funds are being spent and how the animals are being helped.

The Birds will likely be transferred at some point in the future, which would also mean the rescue might go with them. However, they said some local people have also expressed an interest in keeping the animal rescue going in the Minot area.

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