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Pet passion

Published 11:56am Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jerry Mortenson has set a lofty goal for himself to raise money for the Otter Tail County Humane Society.

“I made a commitment to raise $100,000,” Mortenson said.

His latest project could go a long way toward reaching that goal.

Mortenson’s project: for $100, people can have their pet’s names and likenesses, along with a short phrase, etched into a brick. The etching work is done with a laser at Accent Laser Cutting & Engraving. The money is donated to a Humane Society veterinary fund.

The first 18 of these bricks have been placed into a wall donated by Jaenisch Industries in front of the Humane Society building. The wall can hold 200 bricks if filled all the way, but Mortenson would like to leave the bottom two rows for blank bricks, leaving 160 spots ideally for this first wall.

If the project goes well, another wall could be added in the future, Mortenson said. He is hoping to have the initial order of 160 bricks completed and placed in the wall in two years.

“If I sell out this wall, I’ll be pushing about $50,000,” he said.

Mortenson also had to dig out the ground and lay cement for the wall and a granite bench to sit on, a project which took about three weeks to complete.

The granite bench is another personal part of this project. The names of Mortenson’s parents, Norman and Elvina Mortenson, are etched on the back of the bench.

“I’ve always wanted their names on granite,” Mortenson said. “Not only do I get to raise money for the animals, I get my parents name out there forever.”

Mortenson first became passionate about helping the Humane Society after learning about the case of Star, a German Shepherd who had its throat slit by its owner Benjamin Stavaas in 2010. Stavaas eventually plead guilty to mistreatment of an animal and served jail time.

After hearing about the case, Mortenson began visiting Star and has never looked back. There have been several other animals along the way that have captured his heart and, although he doesn’t make it out to the Humane Society as often as he would like, Humane Society employee Samantha Hanson said his visits are always appreciated.

“It’s awesome to have him come out and help,” she said. “When we need him, he’s on board.”

Mortenson feels the project has long-term legs, as the initial rush of people looking to commemorate their favorite pets will give way to those who lose pets in the future.

Much of the work this year has been completed. There are about 10 bricks that have been ordered that Mortenson would like to send up to have etched and put in the wall before it gets too cold.

But the rest of the bricks will have to wait until spring. Mortenson will take orders throughout the winter but will not place the bricks until temperatures warm up again.

The Humane Society has been on board every step of the way.

“I think it would really show the community how much pets really matter to people and we might be able to get some more saved,” Hanson said.

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