New Humane Society, new animal shelter, new $1.5M community campaign
As Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe Co. look to transform the former extension office into an animal shelter, a new Humane Society looks to raise $1.5M to finish the project
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With $6.5 million committed by Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County in a new animal shelter along Sagamore Parkway, the newly formed Humane Society for Greater Lafayette is looking to raise $1.5 million in a community campaign launched Thursday.
The plan is to build onto the former Cooperative Extension Service building at 3150 Sagamore Parkway S., converting the space into an animal shelter and animal control headquarters for the two cities and the county.
Tracy Brown, county commissioner, said the hope is to break ground in the first half of 2023 with an opening in spring 2024. The new shelter would house up to 145 cats and 70 dogs, with room for adoption services, educational classes, updated kenneling, medical procedures for injured animals and an exercise area.
“This location is going to be very visible to the community, and we are hopeful to get loads of community support for this,” Brown said.
What prompted the project was the pending retirement of the owners of Crystal Creek Kennels on Goldsberry Road near Battle Ground, which has handled Tippecanoe County’s stray pets for the past two decades-plus. As the county looked for another place, the mayors and commissioners said they saw an opportunity to try a combined approach.
(For more on how it came together, check the Q&A below with Sharon Dull, the president of the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette.)
Where does that leave the Almost Home Humane Society?
The shelter, built roughly 50 years ago, is tucked away in a secluded part of South Second Street on city-owned ground. Almost Home Humane Society, a nonprofit agency, has contracts to shelter animals well into 2023 for Lafayette and West Lafayette.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said Almost Home has been aware of the cities’ and county’s plan to find a more visible location and that the time was up on a facility that “has lived its useful life.” Roswarski said Almost Home officials let on that the nonprofit organization was thinking of another type of work with animals, including the possibility of a more boutique shelter catering to smaller breeds. But, the mayor said, he wasn’t part of that planning.
“We’d just like to thank Almost Home for all those years of service,” Roswarski said. “But, things change and there’s room for all kinds of work in this area.”
David Bowman, Almost Home Humane Society president, said he would be prepared to answer questions about those plans this week.
Roswarski said the city leases the land to Almost Home for a nominal fee each year. He said he would be open to allowing Almost Home to stay in that spot. If it leaves, though, Roswarski said the city likely would use the buildings and grounds on South Second Street for storage.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: To contribute or to follow progress of the fundraising campaign for the new Humane Society for Greater Lafayette shelter at 3150 Sagamore Parkway S., go to www.humanesociety4greaterlafayette.org or www.hs4gl.org. Contributions also may be sent to: Humane Society for Greater Lafayette, P.O. Box 891, Lafayette, IN 47902.
THE BACKSTORY: A Q&A WITH SHARON DULL OF THE HUMANE SOCIETY FOR GREATER LAFAYETTE
Sharon Dull, a longtime no-kill animal shelter advocate, said the idea for a communitywide shelter started about seven years ago.
“That’s when I plopped myself in (West Lafayette Mayor) John Dennis’ office and said, ‘How can we make something like this happen?’” Dull said last week at a capital campaign kickoff at Lafayette City Hall.
Here’s how it built from there:
Question: How did the idea for the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette get started?
Sharon Dull: A new animal shelter serving our entire county has been on my mind for several years. I knew that Nita Pollock and Bernie Wulle of Crystal Creek, the county animal shelter, wanted to retire. The facility where Almost Home currently resides is sorely in need of a total renovation, and the location of the shelter is not optimal. There were several meetings with city and county discussing possible sites for a new shelter and one that served Lafayette, West Lafayette, and the county animals. Unfortunately, COVID-19 slowed our progress. We completed an extensive feasibility study earlier this year with Shelter Planners of America to determine what size and scope of an animal shelter would meet our current and future needs.
Question: Who is behind the effort – as in, who are the players making this happen?
Sharon Dull: As you know, I am a huge animal advocate and the squeaky wheel, but my role is rather insignificant in that I don’t control the decision-making process. The decision makers are — (county commissioners) Tom Murtaugh, Dave Byers and Tracy Brown, (Lafayette Mayor) Tony Roswarski and (West Lafayette Mayor) John Dennis. All of these city and county officials share concerns over our animal overpopulation and homeless animals. Josh Klumpe of Lafayette Animal Control, as well as all our dedicated animal control officers, deserve a huge pat on the back for their daily efforts in all they do on behalf of the animals — I can’t thank them enough. The board members of Humane Society for Greater Lafayette all share one thing in common – a passion for animals. Our board members include myself, Bryan Stapleton, attorney Abby Neely, Cindy Murray and Bernie Wulle.
Question: How will the organization run its shelter? And is there more to it than a shelter?
Sharon Dull: We will hire an executive director and staff to operate the shelter. We look forward to a strong volunteer base and foster program for help with day-to-day tasks. It will always be our goal to be a no-kill shelter. We need to provide available low-cost spay and neuter options to the public. As we get more control over the animal overpopulation, we hope to add outreach programs for feral cats, pet-owner educational programs, and dog training.
Question: Is there dissatisfaction with Almost Home?
Sharon Dull: We thank Almost Home for their years of serving Lafayette and West Lafayette. Because animal sheltering has changed dramatically over the years, the requirements for an adequate animal shelter have also changed. An animal shelter that offers easy access and is highly visible to the public can raise adoption rates by 100%. A new animal shelter at the old Tippecanoe County Extension Office location meets both of those requirements. We are excited about the future of animal sheltering for our entire county as well as involving our animal-loving community.
Question: What other context should people know?
Sharon Dull: Both animal shelters, Crystal Creek and Almost Home Humane Society, are currently over capacity. While I could blame this partially on COVID-19 and the period of time vet and spay-neuter clinics were closed, I fear it’s the general apathy of today’s society. It is impossible to adopt our way out of this crisis. Please, help us send a message to people to get their animals spayed and neutered. … The public needs to understand a new animal shelter will not be a quick fix to our animal overpopulation problems. Careless breeding, especially the bully breeds, overcrowd our shelters and homes are difficult to find. We are swimming in cats. We all need to be reminded that our pets are totally reliant on us, and we all need to be responsible pet owners. In a perfect world, animal shelters should be very small facilities that house animals who are lost after a gate is accidentally left opened, or its owner passes away. We can do much better. Our animals deserve it.
Thanks again to today’s sponsor, the West Lafayette Public Library Foundation, with its save the date for the grand re-opening and ribbon cutting for the newly expanded and remodeled West Lafayette Public Library. For details, scroll back to the top of this newsletter or go to https://wlaf.lib.in.us/
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