Each week harpist Rachel Christensen uses tunes from her harp to counter the incessant barking of dogs and calm shelter cats.
Over-crowded Freeborn County Humane Society was set to expand the shelter last summer. The expansion would create a cat room separate from that of the dogs that bark all day, fraying the nerves of workers, visitors, and cats alike. The anonymous gift of $150,000 from a donor to use for the expansion was entrusted to former Freeborn County Commissioner Linda Tuttle. Tuttle, who was a respected and longstanding business owner, was arrested for allegedly gambling away all of the $150,000. She has been charged with wire fraud and is currently awaiting trial.
Rachel Christensen is familiar with the conditions at the shelter. She owns a local gas station which she named after her dog, Ole. In the back she sells used books and gives the proceeds to the shelter. When she heard about the embezzlement, she decided to do what she could and, with her harp, brought a little peace to the cats. Shelter director Christa Steiler said, “I love how it makes them relax, calms them down.” Christensen plays for the dogs as well but it is the cats who seem to benefit most. “We just do the best we can while they’re here, to make life good,” she said.