The Payson Humane Society's aluminum can recycling operation -- a major source of revenue for the shelter -- has kicked it up a notch with the donation of a high speed can crusher.
On an average of one day a week, volunteer Bob Mason fires up the contraption and dumps bag after bag of cans into the noisy machine. They climb up a conveyor leading to the crushing area, and the compacted cans are then shot into giant dumpsters that are transported to the Valley when full.
Board member Lisa Boyle, who is in charge of the program, has never been short on enthusiasm or emotion when it comes to helping animals, and the new crusher is a big, powerful addition to her arsenal.
"I love it," Boyle said. "The first time they turned it on and the cans shot down that chute the hair stood up all over my body."
And the dollars increased as well.
"In four months, we stored up 8,500 pounds of crushed aluminum cans, and the new company we're dealing with right now pays us the market price of 62 cents a pound," she said. "So in four months we made $5,270. My goal for this year is at least $20,000."
That's a far cry from what the program produced before Matt Henson and Arizona Environmental Recycling out of Phoenix came along.
"It used to be we had a little bitty trailer made out of a little old worn out truck bed and it took us about a month or so to fill it up and we would take (the cans) to Rye," she said.
There they were paid a per pound rate that was about half of what they now receive. Then came one of those simple twists of fate that make you wonder if there isn't something more to life.
"It was actually a year ago, the 19th of January," Boyle recalled. "I went to my cousin Lynette's wedding in the Valley and I said, ‘So what does this guy do for a living?'
"They said, ‘Oh, he owns a recycling company,' and I was like, ‘Really, how about that.'"
It wasn't long before Henson came up to Payson to check out the shelter's little recycling setup.
"They came up last spring and looked over our operation," Boyle explained. "I gave them a printout that said we had recycled over 240 tons in 10 years, and he figured it up in his mind and he said, ‘I have a crusher, shooter in a warehouse down there that hasn't been used in years, and I'll donate that to you.'
"He donates everything you see here. He even donates the truck that comes and picks things up. It would cost us $400 to have them picked up.
"They've kind of taken us on. He's a very generous young man."
So now the shelter's recycling program is enthusiastically soliciting more aluminum can donations to maximize its capacity.
"I didn't want to promote there for awhile because we didn't have enough volunteers," Boyle said. "It was just the McQuerreys (Melinda and Sherrie) and Penny (McKinlock) and we couldn't keep up.
"But now we got Bob and we got this new (crusher) and it's time to do a publicity blitz because this town's growing so fast there's people that don't know about it."
Money from the recycling program is used in a variety of ways and is allocated by Friends of the Payson Humane Society, the shelter's fund-raising arm.
"We can spend it on spay and neuter, we can spend it on the general fund, or second chance," Boyle said. "Now that we're doing so much (more volume), we're going to consider putting at least half of what we take in from our recycling program into the building fund."
(The humane society recently closed escrow on two acres of land immediately behind their present shelter in an old house at 812 S. McLane Road. The parcel is part of a seven acre site previously occupied by Car & Truck Salvage.)
But wherever the money goes, it gets put to good use by an organization that Boyle believes goes above and beyond for the well being of the Rim Country animals.
As the crusher rattles and bangs on the site of the new shelter, the current ramshackle facility is visible in the background. In an outside cage lays a dog named Gunther.
"He's like a giant corgi," Boyle said. "He won't go inside, because he's never been inside.
"Imagine how horrifying it is in there for him. It's too loud, it smells of chemicals and feces, and it freaks him out. He can't take it.
"He's lucky to be in a place where there's people who notice that about him and appreciate that about him, because a lot of shelters would say we can't store you. But instead, there's special arrangements made for him."
It's an attitude Boyle says permeates everything this little shelter does. She cites the current problem the shelter is having with a giardia outbreak as another case in point.
"The medicine were using costs $200 a tub," she said. "If all we cared about was money, we could've killed everybody and got on with it,
"But our group is in it to save lives -- whatever it costs. That's the reason we hustle like this. We're in it for them, and it's a big deal."
And at a time when the community is struggling to establish recycling programs, this one is already up and running -- and has room to grow.
"We're not only providing for the Payson Humane Society, but we're keeping tons and tons and tons of recyclables out of our landfills," Boyle said.
Boyle's back yard
Ironically, the site where the can crusher is located and a new shelter will one day rise, was Lisa Boyle's back yard when she was growing up in Payson.
"When i was a little kid, my mother ran the bar at the Ox Bow Inn," she explained. "There's an apartment up at this end and that's where we lived. "My back window was right there and this was my back yard.
"All this ground was always wet and it was all pasture."
Aluminum cans can be placed in the Payson's Humane Society's special spotted dalmatian receptacles located throughout Payson and in Pine, Kohl's Ranch and OxBow Estates.
Specific Payson locations include Payson Town Hall, the Payson Humane Society, Payson Campground and Payson Golf Course.
Boyle emphasizes that no quantity is too small.
"People need to realize that just the tiniest contribution helps," she said. "The little old lady who just donates one Wal-Mart bag of cans every three weeks makes a difference."
Boyle is also looking for a few good Dumpster Divers to help with the program.
"It has to be volunteer-driven," she said. "If we have to pay somebody, it defeats the purpose."