Chesterton Tribune

Porter County animal shelter chief quits after 3 months

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The county’s mission to turn its troubled animal shelter around met an unexpected bump this week when it was announced during Tuesday’s Porter County Commissioner meeting the shelter’s new director Kristina Montgomery had tendered her resignation just three months after taking the position.

Both commissioners John Evans, R-North, and Nancy Adams, R-Center, acknowledged the role as shelter director has a never-ending list of demands and believed that Montgomery may have found herself overwhelmed in trying to take on the tremendous challenges, barely making time for herself and family.

“It’s a 24-hour-a-day job,” said Evans.

Adams, who has spent many hours helping Montgomery make improvements, said she hopes the shelter will be able to keep moving in the direction it is going with the help of the new animal shelter advisory and control boards.

With Nov. 28 set as Montgomery’s last day, the commissioners said they will begin the process of appointing a new director and are now taking applications for the position.

Montgomery officially ook the reins as director on Aug. 22, a month after the commissioners discharged former director Judy Bonaventura in July over the question of missing funds revealed in a state audit. More troubling details about the shelter emerged at the end of July when County Council President Dan Whitten discovered cats where being housed in rooms with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

At a cost of approximately $20,000, the county, Montgomery and shelter volunteers during the month of September refurbished many areas of the building, painting walls, acquired new signage and logos, disinfected and applied newly-epoxied floors and added a new animal care room. During that time, the council also debated whether it would be best to turn the shelter over to private hands, but after seeing improvements decided it would use what it has to keep the shelter moving in the right direction.

The latest discussions involve constructing a new shelter facility which will likely involve Montgomery’s successor.

“The saga continues,” Evans said with a sigh on Tuesday.

Montgomery, who was not present during the commissioners’ announcement, later told the Chesterton Tribune her family is the primary reason she decided to step down. Her responsibilities at the shelter have made it difficult to spend time with her 10-month old daughter.

“I love the work and being able to make a difference,” she said, “but it is too (difficult) to do both the shelter job and the mom job.”

Montgomery said she hopes the commissioners find a candidate who has the time and talent to do the work.

While no definite plans yet, Montgomery says she would like to continue working with animals in some fashion part-time until her daughter gets a little older. Before making the move to Porter County, Montgomery got her start in Bloomington, Ind. working for an animal care center and later managed a shelter in East Chicago with further involvement at the PAWS no-kill shelter organization in Chicago.

She thanked the community for its outpouring of support and said she would be willing to continue working with the county in other ways to further the progress of the shelter.

Board almost filled

In another shelter matter, Porter County Sheriff David Lain announced his two remaining appointments for the newly-formed Animal Control board.

Lain added attorney Ronald Thoreson, whose office is located in Valparaiso, and a member from his own staff of animal control officers, Patrick Cassin. The two will join Valparaiso veterinarian Dr. Thomas Covault and realtor Donna Pace who Lain appointed during the previous commissioners’ meeting on Nov. 2.

The County Commissioners have yet to make their sole appointment to the five-member board. Evans said they will be able to confirm the representative at the upcoming commissioners meeting on Dec. 5.

 

 

Posted 11/16/2011