Chesterton Tribune



Porter County breaks ground for new Animal Shelter; opening set for June

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Members of the Porter County Board of Commissioners and County Council on Friday, along with Shelter Director Toni Bianchi, donor Jacki Stutzman, and representatives of DLZ Indiana and Larson Danielson Construction Company marked the official start of construction for the new Porter County Animal Shelter.

The new 14,000 square foot facility is located on Ind. 49, just north of the Porter County Expo Center, and replaces the aging and outdated 4,000 square foot shelter that was built in the early 1980s on Ind. 2 and Heavilin Rd..

“Shelter Director Toni Bianchi and our dedicated shelter staff have worked miracles tending for our homeless animals while their hands were tied by the condition and limitations of the old shelter,” said County Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, in a statement released after the ceremony. “I can’t wait to see the amazing things that they will accomplish when their skills and dedication are unleashed in a new, modern facility.”

The new facility is designed to not only accommodate more animals, but to help control operating costs and increase successful adoptions. The maximum capacity for dogs increases to 120 from 50 at the old shelter, and for cats to 120 from 80. It will include a spay/neuter clinic, two examination rooms and a grooming area.

It is hoped the enhancements will result in healthier animals that are more readily adoptable and assure that all animals are altered before they leave the shelter to reduce animal overpopulation and future intakes at the shelter over the long term.

In addition, modern air circulation and indoor drainage systems, along with the specific building materials used in the dog and cat areas, are expected to improve sanitary conditions and reduce health risks to the animals and public.

Three “meet and greet” rooms for potential adopters will provide a welcoming environment for the public to bond with the animals before adoption, furthering the shelter’s goal of successful, long term placements. An educational conference room offers the opportunity for community educational programs about responsible pet ownership, with the goal of reducing animal surrenders or abandonment. The conference room will also provide a much needed space for the shelter’s volunteer orientation program to expand public involvement in caring for and socializing the shelter’s animal population.

“The day that this new shelter opens will mark a turning point for our animals, staff and the public in Porter County,” said Bianchi. “We will be able to move from a shelter that just houses homeless animals to a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in addressing a long term solution to the problems of animal homelessness and overpopulation.”

It is anticipated, weather permitting, that construction of the new shelter will be complete by June 1, 2017.

Constructions costs for the shelter have been budgeted at $3.25 million. The County Commissioners and Council have unanimously approved a $2.25 million appropriation from the proceeds of the sale of the hospital.

The remaining $1 million has been donated by Stutzman, a Porter Twp. resident. Stutzman first became aware of the limitations and challenges of the current shelter building while cleaning cages as a volunteer over four years ago.

“It has been a long four-year journey,” said Stutzman. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Porter County Animal Shelter and the animals they care for. I am counting the days until the grand opening in 2017.”



Posted 9/12/2016






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