Chesterton Tribune

Indiana 130 / 149 intersection eyed for new county animal shelter

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Discussions are deepening on the possible agreement between Porter County Board of Commissioners and the non-profit Lakeshore PAWS for a new animal care facility to be built on five acre land parcel at the corner of Ind. 130 and Ind. 149.

In a press release earlier this week, Lakeshore PAWS said the commissioner board is considering donating the land for the organization to build on, which was outlined earlier in a letter of intent made in June.

PAWS will be responsible for construction costs and intends to fund them with fundraising proceeds, instead of public tax dollars.

“It’s going to give a break to the taxpayers,” said County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North.

The county would still maintain and operate the current shelter facility located on Ind. 2 south of Valparaiso but as its animal control unit, Evans said. Management for animal care would be assumed by PAWS but its president and co-founder Jeanne Sommer said it is not a takeover of the shelter as the county could still use the facility.

Sommer said she believes the new location will be more centrally located being closer to residents from Portage and Duneland.

“While we think the location is highly visible and could increase adoptions, we’re still working on details for how a contract relationship with the county might work,” Sommer said in the release.

A representative from PAWS would regularly evaluate the animals housed by animal control to determine which are adoptable, Evans said.

The commissioners expect to take a vote soon on whether to donate the land to PAWS. Evans said the vote will not be taken at the commissioners meeting next Tuesday but possibly in the next few months.

In addition, PAWS announced this week that it is partnering with the Humane Society Calumet Area to enhance its ability to provide quality animal care, adoption services, and community education.

According to this week’s press release, both organizations in the partnership will remain separate entities, but both will benefit from shared resources and expertise.

The Humane Society Calumet Area is located in Munster and operates as no-kill serving nearly 2,000 animals annually with a 97 percent placement rate, PAWS said.

The Humane Society’s executive director Rachel Delaney said more can be accomplished by joining efforts and capturing more money through fundraisers and grants.

“Lakeshore PAWS will maintain its own identity, but be able to utilize our expertise and staff as a resource,” said Delaney.

Having no facility currently, PAWS works to help rescue and find caring homes for abandoned and unwanted pets in Northwest Indiana with the help of foster families and boarding facilities. In its first 16 months of operation, PAWS has been able to rescue 345 dogs and more than 70 cats.

Sommer said the future PAWS facility would be no-kill with a spay and nueter facility onsite. A feasibility study completed earlier this year by the Shelter Planners of America recommended a new shelter building be about 10,500 sq. ft. with 3,000 sq. ft. of outside space – more than three times the size of the current facility – on a 4 to 6 acre site.

In its study, Shelter Planners estimated the cost for the new shelter to be $2.9 million, but Sommer said she expects the costs would be less since many individuals and groups have come forward willing to help with construction.

The project also has an anonymous donor willing to match donations that come in. Donations are being taken through the Porter County Community Foundation.

The commissioner’s doled out $6,500 for the Shelter Planners to complete the feasibility study, building program and floor plan. If the partnership between PAWS and the county goes through, Evans said the plans are available to Sommer if she wishes to utilize them.

Sommer said she will discuss publically more about the building and the Humane Society partnership during an event this Saturday at Countryside Park in Portage. PAWS, the Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry and the CPR Fund Adoption and Rescue will host Paws for International Homeless Animal Days at the park located at 5250 U.S. 6.

The event, which aims to increase awareness of the homeless pet problem, starts at 4 p.m. and ends with a vigil at dusk.

Meanwhile, Evans said the new ordinance to revamp the animal control code is still being discussed by the county’s Animal Control board but no date has been set for the commissioners to vote on it.



Posted 8/16/2012