Chesterton Tribune

Evans favors Thomas as permanent animal shelter director

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Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, announced today that he will recommend the hiring of Jon Thomas as the Director of the Porter County Animal Shelter at the March 6 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Thomas currently serves as Interim Director at the Shelter.

“The turnaround at the Shelter under Jon’s direction has been nothing less than stunning,” said Evans.

“In just a few short months, Jon has accomplished what many thought was impossible,” he said, noting that the Shelter is cleaner than ever, animal adoptions have dramatically increased, volunteerism in on the rise, and donations of supplies and money have been pouring in.

Evans said Thomas was able to accomplish these things while also dealing with the largest animal hoarding case in the county’s history where 102 dogs were seized from a home in Westchester Twp.

“Jon has proven that he is the right person at the right time,” said Evans.

A press release sent to the Tribune Friday also mentioned a few recent developments at the shelter.

In January, the Commissioners hired Stacy Price as the new Assistant Director at the Shelter. Price’s previous experience includes the Disney Animal Kingdom and the Smithsonian National Zoo.

“With Stacy’s animal care and management background, and Jon Thomas’ focus and leadership, the Porter County Animal Shelter is in the very capable hands of a strong management team,” said Evans.

In late December, the Commissioners contracted Curt Ellis for the marketing and management of the Shelter’s popular Facebook page at a cost of $10 a day. Since Jan. 8, the new focused management has directly contributed to the adoption of over 65 cats and 17 dogs, generating over $3,000 in adoption fee revenue.

Evans estimated the monthly cost of just feeding and providing cat litter for those adopted animals to be approximately $800, not including the costs of veterinary bills.

In addition, the Facebook page has resulted in over $2,000 in donations of supplies and money.

“The investment in professional management of the Shelter Facebook page has proven to be a wise decision. With the record adoption of animals, along with fees and donations exceeding $5,000, the Shelter Facebook page has become an effective adoption tool and a revenue generator,” said Evans.

On Feb. 27, Evans delivered a new 2012 Ford Transit Connect Animal Transport Van to the Shelter. Purchased in December by the Porter County Commissioners, the Transport Van will allow the safer transport of animals to and from vet appointments and rescue organizations. The Transport Van also features art work by Signworks in Valparaiso intended to raise awareness of the Shelter and encourage adoptions.

Working in partnership with Thomas and Price, the recently formed Animal Shelter Advisory Board continues to progress in developing policies and procedures for the review and approval by the Board of Commissioners.

“It is beneficial for the Shelter and Commissioners to have this extra expertise and input about the operation of the Shelter, and the Commissioners are grateful for their commitment and input,” said Evans.

On Feb. 23, Shelter Planners of America conducted an initial assessment of the ongoing needs of the Porter County Animal Shelter, including the potential of a new a Shelter building.

At a public meeting held that evening, SPA Planning and Design Director Bill Meade described the current Shelter building as “grossly undersized” for the number of animals that the Shelter handles. The full written needs assessment report is expected to be completed within the next few weeks.

“Once we receive and review the written report, our Porter County community is going to need to have a serious and thoughtful discussion,” stated Evans. “There is no doubt that a new Shelter building is needed, but building costs and the potential of increased operating costs will have to be carefully examined and include the consideration of private and non-profit partnerships.”

“The Porter County Animal Shelter is on the most positive path that we have seen in many years,” Evans noted. “The extraordinary commitment and hard work of our Shelter staff, the additional and necessary resources provided by the Commissioners, and the amazing dedication of the Shelter volunteers and supporters have come together to achieve this forward momentum.”



Posted 3/2/2012