Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, announced the
non-profit group which is in talks to partner with the county to run the
animal shelter is Opportunity Enterprises.
After telling the county council last week about discussions with an unnamed
group, Evans revealed the identity publically at the Animal Shelter Advisory
Board meeting Thursday.
Some speculated earlier that the commissioners might team with the Lakeshore
PAWS group which has been assisting the county shelter in finding homes for
Although Opportunity Enterprise has had no previous involvement with the
shelter, Evans said he was confident the cooperative effort will yield
“If this goes through, I think there would be benefits on all sides,” said
Animal shelter board members spoke of the need for a new shelter building,
but Evans said the discussions with OE are in its early stages and could not
confirm if they would include plans to build a new building.
Further discussion is expected to take place between county officials and
stakeholders next week. A meeting to discuss the shelter is scheduled for
Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the county administration building.
Evans said OE has a great desire to help the shelter and feels the
partnership would benefit the individuals the organization serves. The group
would help out with daily activities such as cleaning and attending to the
needs of the animals.
Also Thursday, shelter interim director Jon Thomas introduced himself to the
board. Taking charge after former director Kristina Montgomery resigned,
Thomas said he has made a few changes and said landscaper Roger Getz and his
crew have been cleaning up the outdoor dog runs every day this week.
Thomas said his top priorities include finding homes for the 140 cats and 55
dogs currently housed at the shelter and improving the building’s appearance
to make it an inviting place for the public.
“My ultimate goal is a place for the animals. I want it spotless and I want
it organized,” he said. “People do judge a book by its cover.”
Thomas, who began working at the shelter part-time two weeks ago, is also a
candidate for the permanent director position.
Board member Dr. Rachel Jones suggested the shelter consult veterinarians on
protocols to maintain a healthy environment for the animals which grew into
a discussion of putting in concrete floors in the dog runs so the animals
would not become ill from playing in dirt.
The concrete would also be easier to disinfect, said Thomas.
County Council member Laura Blaney, D-at large, who serves on the board,
said portable mats might be an alternative solution.
The board and Evans talked about having a contractor get an estimate on the
cost to put in concrete floors.
Sickness has been a problem recently, board members pointed out. Two
outbreaks of parvovirus occurred during the past two months, resulting in
the euthanization of at least three dogs.
The shelter closed down for two weeks so staff could disinfect the areas
where animals are housed.
Jones said area veterinarians are becoming reluctant to care for sick
animals at the shelter since they have not received funds from the county.
Blaney said the council appropriated an additional $65,000 last week to pay
what is owed the veterinarians and they should receive the checks soon.
Thomas said he is also interested in purchasing a snow blower so animals can
be let out to get exercise in the winter.
Board member Ella Holst provided a list of proposals from the board’s
marketing committee to increase animal adoptions.
Holst suggested photos be uploaded daily to the shelter’s Facebook page or
Petfinder of a cat or dog waiting to be adopted and include a individual
message about the animal.
With the help of Lakeshore PAWS, “available pet” fliers will be sent out
twice a month around the community.
Hoping to encourage more community involvement, the committee will reach out
to schools and youth groups about participating in activities and contests
such as having a contest to name a shelter dog.
It also wants to seek out a pet groomer to donate one or two days a month to
come to the animal shelter. Volunteers and donors will be given special
mention at least once a week online.
The committee would also like monthly promotions from community pet
businesses to offer a reduced price on services for pets adopted from the
shelter, such as half-off on grooming or a training class.
Blaney said the shelter could make the effort to promote the businesses that
give to them.
Meanwhile, the board is in the process of setting up a new donation fund for
the shelter with the Porter County Community Foundation. Residents would be
able to make a tax-deductable contribution through the Foundation.