MANKATO — Lost and seized animals in Mankato are now going to the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society instead of a city impound facility.

The Mankato City Council approved an agreement this week for the nonprofit shelter to take over impound services through the end of next year.

The Humane Society has been taking in the city’s stray animals on a temporary basis since this spring. The city laid off its animal control officer and closed its impound shelter in Sibley Park during the pandemic.

Contracting with BENCHS will save the city money, city officials say. And they hope more lost animals will be reunited with their owners and more quickly.

“The animals really win in this situation,” said Associate Director of Public Safety Dan Schisel.

Previously lost dogs, cats and occasionally other domestic animals spent five business days at the city facility waiting for an owner to come forward. Animals that were not claimed then went to a rescue organization. Nearly half went to BENCHS last year.

“We’re really excited to expand the care that we give to all animals here,” said BENCHS Executive Director Andrew Burk.

Now stray animals wait five days at the shelter before they are put up for adoption. During those days, BENCHS staff advertise found animals on their social media sites.

“It made a lot of sense for us to start on day one instead of day five,” Burk said.

Of the more than 115 stray animals brought to BENCHS this spring and summer, nearly a third were returned to an owner.

“We’re very excited about that number,” Burk said.

The Humane Society has taken kennels and equipment from the former city impound facility to expand its capacity to care for more animals

The city is paying BENCHS $30 for each stray it takes in. Owners will continue to be charged a fee to claim animals and must provide some proof of ownership.

Community members who find a stray animal are asked to bring it to the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society, 1250 N. River Drive, if they are able to do so and it’s between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Finders can call the county dispatch center at 507-304-4863 if it is after hours or they need assistance from a police officer to catch or transport an animal.