Chesterton Tribune

Lakeshore PAWS makes offer to purchase site for new animal shelter

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Just a short time after news of discussions with the Porter County Board of Commissioners on the possibility of the county donating a parcel of land near the intersection of Ind. 130 and Ind. 149 to build a new county animal care facility, Lakeshore PAWS co-founder and president Jeanne Sommer has announced the intentions of the non-profit pet rescue agency to purchase the land.

Sommer made the announcement during the International Homeless Animals Day event held Saturday at Countryside Park in Portage.

In her address, Sommer said the commissioners have agreed to let PAWS pay the remaining costs to Shelter Planners of America to finalize floor and building plans for a new facility that will include a new adoption center and a spay/neuter clinic that would also be available to local shelters and rescue groups.

“We can incorporate plans (from Shelter Planners) into a building that not only houses the animals of Porter County but also continues to provide shelter for dogs and cats of other rescues and areas since we will continue to help all animals and not just the ones from the county,” she said.

PAWS will receive a helping hand from the Humane Society of Calumet Area, a no-kill facility in Munster that also has recently built a spay/neuter clinic.

The two groups announced the formation of a partnership last week and Sommer said they will come up with a proposal for the county so it can contract out their animal care and adoption services to PAWS.

One change PAWS is asking is to build a new animal control building close to the new care facility instead of using the current animal shelter facility on Ind. 2 south of Valparaiso for animal control.

“It would just make sense to have the facilities close to each other so that we might be able to share different resources,” said Sommer.

Although animal control will still be a county-run operation through the sheriff’s department, Sommer said PAWS would like to discuss how operations would work between them to “attain a balance between protecting the public and protecting the animals.”

A member from PAWS would inspect the animals at Animal Control weekly and try to find homes for them.

County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, on Monday said he would agree animal control and animal welfare might “function better” having them side-by-side, but the board of commissioners would need to take a closer look at the suggestion before deciding on the concept.

He said that PAWS and the commissioners will continue having discussions about the land agreement. Donating the land is still a possibility with a potential agreement that PAWS give the county some kind of credit for the first year.

Sommer last week said the new shelter would be no-kill and as “cage-free” as possible.

The Shelter Planners of America feasibility study gave recommendations the new building be close to 10,500 sq. ft. with 3,500 sq. ft. of exterior space. A shelter like the one recommended would cost about $2.9 million, the study said, but Sommer said she believes the actual costs will be less due to the amount of donations and services they are receiving.



Posted 8/20/2012