Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Humane society to open new shelter

by on August 20, 2014 10:59 AM

Six years after it was proposed, and two years after construction started, the Indiana County Humane Society’s new animal shelter is about to become the temporary home for hundreds of dogs and cats.

Humane Society board President Reed Booth-Fairman said final preparations will be completed next week and the society’s staff and volunteers, and the animals in their care, will move into the new $1.7 million shelter at 191 Airport Road, White Township, in the first week of September.

[PHOTO: Don Krimin, of the Indiana County Humane Society’s maintenance department, assembled some of the dog kennels at the society’s new $1.7 million shelter at 191 Airport Road, White Township. (Jamie Empfield/Gazette photo)]

The shelter since 1997 has operated from the lower level of the old county-owned barn off Haven Drive, White Township.

“I am pleased because so many people did not believe we could do it,” Booth-Fairman said of the efforts to raise funds and build a new shelter. “We never closed our doors. We were open every day for service. People never gave up. … We have a core group of wonderful volunteers.”

In December, the new shelter was essentially finished but $150,000 was still needed to purchase interior dog kennels. The needed money had been pledged, Booth-Fairman said, but some donors had not followed through on their promises to give.

A breakthrough came recently with a $15,000 gift from an anonymous donor and the discovery of some used stainless steel dog kennels available in Kentucky.

“We were able to purchase them at half the original price,” Booth-Fairman said, adding that about $10,000 is still owed on the kennels.

Another “very instrumental donation” from society board member Maryann Baran allowed the shelter’s cat condos and towers — a multi-level structure for feline exercise — to be completed, Booth-Fairman said.

The new shelter still needs a kennel license and an inspection by a dog warden from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, but Booth-Fairman anticipates no problems with those requirements since the shelter is a new facility.

Some landscaping around the building and some work on the shelter’s parking lot also remains to be finished.

“It’s a little rough” on the outside, “but operationally we’ll be good to go” the first week of September, Booth-Fairman said.

To make the move into the new shelter a little easier, the society is holding an adoption special this week and is waiving the adoption fee for cats and dogs. That will save a new pet owner $125 for an adopted dog and $50 or $40 on an adopted cat. To qualify for the waived fees, the pet owner must meet certain criteria, including being an Indiana County resident, having references and agreeing to keep the pet indoors.

The adoption special is intended to reduce the society’s inventory of homeless animals, but Booth-Fairman anticipates that at least 100 cats and 30 dogs will still have to be moved to the new shelter.

The society in July alone took in 196 cats, she said.

Booth-Fairman said the humane society members greatly appreciated county officials’ permission to use the old barn, but it was never intended to be a high-volume animal shelter and had recurring ventilation problems. The new shelter, she said, has 100 percent air exchange that will reduce odors and minimize respiratory health risks to the animals there.

The new building not only has more space than the barn, but space designed to be an animal shelter. For the health and welfare of animals, there are separate entrances for human visitors and animals arriving at or leaving the shelter.

There is more indoor living space for the animals, more and larger outdoor exercise areas, separate cat and dog quarantine and isolation areas for animals when they first arrive, a larger medical room and a “get acquainted rooms” where animals and potential adopters can meet each other quietly and privately.

In the new shelter, animals should stay healthier and be more comfortable during their wait for a new home, and Booth-Fairman is confident the spacious, clean and well-lighted new building will be more inviting to people looking for a pet.

The humane society will have to assume payment for more of the shelter’s utilities when it moves into the new building and for that reason, donations and pledges will continue to be vital for the humane society.

“There are still outstanding pledges,” Booth-Fairman said. Some donors are paying their pledges in increments.

Booth-Fairman said she hopes people who made financial pledges for the new shelter but have not yet put their check in the mail will feel comfortable following through on their pledge knowing that their donations will help care for neglected and abused animals now that the new shelter is about to open.

“Our board members have been very aggressively fundraising,” Booth-Fairman said. And coming up are two of the society’s biggest fundraisers, the “Cause for Paws,” starting at 11 a.m. on Sept. 20 at Blue Spruce Park, and the “Crash-4-Critters” demolition derby and truck pull, starting at noon on Oct. 4 at Mack Park.

Tax-deductible donations for the new shelter may also be mailed to the Indiana County Humane Society at 65 Haven Drive, Indiana, PA 15701.

Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is
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