Dedman Foundation

Exploring The World of Animal Shelters: An Inside Look At Dedman Foundation

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An interview with Dedman Foundation from Fort Benton, MT.

Introducing Dedman Foundation

My name is Benjamin Pullen. I am the kennel manager, and I am acting director of operations. I am involved in this organization because I believe in its mission and how it supports the community. I also just really love animals. Working with animals is my dream job that brings me happiness and fulfilment no other job has.

How did Dedman Foundation Start? What Are The Challenges Encountered Along The Way?

The founder of the shelter was Florence Dedman. She lived in Fort Benton, MT, for the majority of her life. Before she passed, she put in her will that all of her estate and fortune be used to create a small nonprofit animal shelter to rescue the stray and neglected animals in our county and the surrounding areas. She loved animals more than she loved people and she hoped the animal shelter would last as long as possible. Her vision was a small shelter that resembled a home environment and a personal touch to ensure the animals would be loved and properly cared for as if they were family. It was founded officially in 1993, shortly after she passed. The will gave the task of founding the shelter to Tim Kalanick, who used the funds to start the shelter and was heavily involved until his death last November 2022.

Dedman Animal Shelter

Tell Us About The Most “Unusual” Animal That Dedman Foundation Has Ever Taken.

Since we can only rescue cats and dogs, we haven’t had many “unusual” animals stay at our shelter. 

Tell Us About The Most Unique And Creative Fundraising Campaigns That The Dedman Foundation Has Done

In recent years we’ve held an event called Barkfest that is an auction style event. The items available for auction are donated by the various businesses in our community. A meal is provided with live music and dancing. We are hoping to do that again this year. All proceeds go directly to the care of the animals.

Tell Us About The Most Rewarding Part Of Running Dedman Foundation

The most rewarding part of running an animal shelter is the instant gratification from animals once they feel loved and cared for. That feeling when an animal switches from scared and fearful to happy and loved, there’s no better feeling.


What Do You Think Might Be The Greatest Challenge Of Running Dedman Foundation?

The greatest challenge of running an animal shelter is handling the difficult surrender situations by people who don’t love the animals like we do. Some of the awful situations people put animals in, and expect us to fix because it’s “our job” can be difficult to process because it brings up such strong feelings.

Tell Us More About The Volunteers In Dedman Foundation

We have two outstanding volunteers, Daphne and Jess. Daphne was trapping feral cats and having them spayed/neutered because she understands the importance of helping minimize the stray cat population. Once she began working with us, she became an amazing cat foster and nurtured a kitten who lost her eyes after being born outside in the cold. Her passion and love for cats knows no bounds. Jess adopted a dog from us shortly after moving here to Fort Benton. He was a high energy dog, so Jess started volunteering with us so her dog could socialize and play with the other dogs during the day. She has also fostered a cat from us and she has become our in-house photographer.

Where Do Most Of The Animals In Dedman Foundation Come From, And What Is The Process For Rescuing And Rehabilitating Them?

Most of our animals come from farms across our county after being dumped by people. The farmers discover them and bring them to our shelter. Once they arrive, they are placed on a 7 day quarantine where they are examined and treated for health issues as needed.


They receive their vaccinations and if they are of age, get spayed/neutered. If an animal shows any behavioral issues, we work with them one on one each day until they show progress. Most behavioral issues can be fixed with just attention and love. We have the ideal shelter size to be able to regularly spend quality time with each animal individually each day.


What Are The Busiest Periods And How Does Dedman Foundation Cope?

The busiest times of year for our shelter are during June and December. June is the celebratory month for our county and a lot of people come to our town to celebrate. December is the month of giving, and is usually our time when a lot of people stop in to drop off donations or to adopt. We have two people on staff at all times, and volunteers are stopping by multiple times a week. Since this is a small town, people are pretty patient and laid back and we have never had an issue helping everyone. Most volunteers are a phone call away if they are ever needed.


What Animals Does Dedman Foundation Focus On?

We focus solely on cats and dogs. The reason for that is there are so many stray or abused cats and dogs in our area and surrounding areas that it is a critical need. A lot of our animals are strays that were abandoned. We don’t often know how long they have been abandoned and their attitude and behavior shows that. We had a particular group of 8 kittens arrive that despised all people. One in particular you couldn’t get anywhere near. Over the course of five months, all of the kittens warmed up to us at the shelter and started learning to socialize with other cats and people. Eventually even the meanest kitten, Patches, was adopted to a home where we receive periodic updates on how she’s doing. She now sits in the laps of her adopters and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. All it took was time and attention a little bit every day, and eventually the kittens became happy, healthy, normal cats. It was such a rewarding experience.

Working With The Local Community

We have one of the best communities around. The community and shops step up often to ensure these animals receive the donations they need to stay happy and healthy. In turn, we provide a place for animals to be taken in a time of need, and we also provide information and education to the residents of our town. Not every solution to a situation has to be a surrender. More often than not it just takes finding the actual problem and solving it. We get calls all the time asking how to correct bad behavior or if there is a training technique that can help a certain personality quirk. Being that provider of knowledge and information allows more animals to remain in comfortable, warm homes. We also work directly with the police department to ensure loose animals are returned to their owner or potentially dangerous animals are rescued to ensure the safety of both the animal and the community. We also host various events and fundraising by partnering with the different businesses in our community. We are a close-knit group that help each other in many different ways.

Tell Us More About Your Events

We just held a Valentine’s Day kissing booth event for the children of the community. They got their photo taken with cats and dogs kissing them behind the booth, and the winner got her picture in the local newspaper. We are currently working on an easter egg hunt for easter so the children have a fun place to come and enjoy easter.

What Is Done Differently at Dedman Foundation?

We offer a rehoming service on our website. It acts as a bulletin board for the community. If anyone is looking to rehome an animal, they submit the information to us and we post the animal and contact info on our website. People interested can contact the owner directly and rehome the pet. Most shelters are usually full and can’t take in animals, and I was tired of turning people away with no alternative. This gives someone the opportunity to rehome their animal at their convenience instead of turning their animal into a stray or potentially putting their animal down.

How Has Dedman Foundation Adapted To The Challenges Presented By The Pandemic?

We vaccinate the animals for coronavirus. Luckily due to the small population of our community, we were relatively unaffected by the pandemic. We had fewer visitors, but largely missed getting sick or dealing with someone who was sick.

Share With Us Some Of The Heartwarming Stories Of Animals Rehabilitated And Rehomed By Dedman Foundation.

Probably our most heart-warming story is about a German Shepherd named Chloe. She came from an abusive household, and was afraid of men, children and other dogs. She was in this shelter for almost two years, and went back to her abusive owners once time. After working with her we learned she just needs some time to warm up to people. Finally someone walked in and fell in love with Chloe. Over the course of two months, the adopter visited every other weekend and spent over an hour with her in our activity room and outside on walks. Watching Chloe and her adopters bond grow over those two months was a magical thing to see. It was one of the happiest moments for our shelter and it shows that people can surprise you with their generosity and love.

What Are The Help Needed From The Local Community?

Since we are a nonprofit and private foundation, we rely solely on the generous donations of our community. We are able to apply for some grants, but most of our funding and supplies come from the community. That’s why we like to host events for the community to show them how important they are to us.

Connect With Dedman Foundation here:

Address: 1410 24th St, Fort Benton, MT 59442

Phone: (406) 622 5657.

Website(s): / is thankful to Dedman Foundation for the interview.

Check out this page for the list of animal shelters in Helena, Montana.

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