Members of the Porter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board are eager to
begin taking donations for a new shelter.
All they need now is a plan.
At a meeting Wednesday to address fundraising, Board member Laura Blaney
said she met with County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, and
believes they will be able to find $1 million in the county’s coffers for a
facility to replace the undersized shelter and have the rest of the tab be
picked up by donations and grants.
Blaney said the important thing to do now is to keep moving in steps towards
raising the money needed, but conceded the process will take time.
“Let’s start thinking about fundraising,” she said.
The shelter has set up a method to receive contributions through the Porter
County Community Foundation to assist the shelter with its daily needs.
Board president Toni Bianchi said a separate fund should be set up strictly
to accumulate funds for new shelter construction.
Blaney said a private donor has come forward offering to match any donation
made up to a certain amount.
Before the board officially gets started on a fundraising effort, Bianchi
felt it best to announce a target amount of how much they wish to collect
but the figure of how much is needed is still unknown because no definite
blueprints for the future building have been developed.
A review by the California-based Shelter Planners of America released in
late April suggested a total price of $2.92 million for a new shelter ($2.3
million for construction with another $600,000 for permits, worker costs and
contingency). But Blaney, who also serves on the county council as an
at-large member, said the county will probably plan for a lesser figure,
saying $3 million is “too much.”
Shelter Director Jon Thomas said the Shelter Planners report did not account
for amenities the new shelter will need and he found other suggestions he
did not agree with.
Regardless of the differences, the board made a favorable recommendation to
the county commissioners, saying they support the plan although “tweaks
could be made,” and urged forging ahead with having Shelter Planners
complete a floor plan, which Blaney said is already included in the $6,500
the county paid the firm to do the initial study.
The board made the push to establish a fundraising committee that would
include not just shelter board members but individuals with a talent for
“We need somebody with great organizational skills,” Blaney said.
Board member Ella Holst who is in charge of marketing for the board provided
a list of shelter fundraising ideas which includes sponsoring specific pets,
sponsoring classes or workshops, partnering with a local marketing firm,
participating in community events or anything that would move the county
closer to seeing a new shelter.
“I want it to be done as soon as possible but as good as possible,” said
Bianchi offered a few of her own ideas such as raising money through
licensing dogs but fellow board member Patrick Cassin said the state may
have certain regulations on that and the board should check those policies
From the audience, residents Maredith Reggie of Kouts and Linda Canfield of
Jackson Twp. asked if the board would be casting aside the suggestion made
by Shelter Planners to work with another agency on handling the overflow of
animals and euthanizing animals which could not be helped. Canfield
questioned what the vote to support the Shelters Planner report meant since
the board has not sought private/public relationship as the report suggests.
Blaney said “nothing is off the table yet” but the board is advisory and all
final decisions would be made by the county commissioners. Bianchi said the
board’s vote to support the report was to continue with the floor plan, not
to abide by its every recommendation.
“We’re just moving forward. We’re not saying we love everything in (the
report),” Bianchi said.
Thomas added that he did not see the reasoning behind a second facility to
house animals since he feels he can handle overflows by means of spay/neuter
programs, educating the public on pet care and hard work.
“I believe it can be done,” said Thomas.
Reggie and Canfield said the shelter provides regular reports to the public
on how many animals it takes in, how many are being let out and if any
animals are being disposed of. Reggie said the numbers would be important in
planning for the new shelter and advocated having them readily available for
public view, such as on the shelter’s Facebook page.
In a separate matter, Thomas reported the number of dogs removed from a
hoarding situation in Westchester Twp. being cared for at the shelter is
down to 15. He said it is “a very strong goal” of his to have the all the
dogs be adopted within the next 30 days. A few of the dogs will be taken in
by surrounding pet adoption agencies.
The shelter has also “become inundated with kittens” recently, Thomas said,
and would like to start an aggressive promotion for them to be adopted.
Evans told the Tribune Thursday he agrees with the board’s action to
ask Shelter Planners to complete a floor plan and affirmed the new price
will likely be less than $3 million, using local companies to do the
construction. He said the private entity willing to match donations, who he
would not identify at this time, will be a great benefit to the fundraising