Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Sheriff: Animal Shelter may reach critical mass with Portage animals

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Sheriff David Lain expressed personal concerns this week about the effects of the offloading of stray cats and dogs by the City of Portage’s Animal Control at the Porter County Animal Shelter on his own department, as well as the Shelter itself.

Lain said that the County’s Animal Control officers have been told on several occasions recently by Shelter staff they would have to hold an animal until space opened up at the cramped facility on Ind. 2 south of Valparaiso. The officers have had to wait for an hour or more at times before being able to unload the animals from their trucks, Lain said.

Meanwhile, Portage officials received a letter on Aug. 6, 2013, from Humane Society of Hobart saying the “temporary agreement” to house animals from Portage Animal Control “cannot go on indefinitely” as it poses a safety issue for the animals and Humane Society employees.

Carol Konopacki, director of Humane Society of Hobart, said in the letter that the arrangement “has been too many years, too long,” and she will consider charging the city extra fees starting in January unless Portage officials find another location to drop off their animals. She suggested that Portage build its own facility, as was discussed years ago when the agreement was made.

Lain wrote to the County Commissioners saying that the County Animal Shelter would be reaching “critical mass” if it were to accept animals from Portage which he said would have a “detrimental effect” on animal control operations.

“It does affect the people of our department from a safety standpoint,” Lain told the Tribune this morning.

The County Commissioners early in 2012 undertook the task of assembling plans to build a larger County Animal Shelter and most recently announced their hopes of building it at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, along U.S. 6 about 1,600 feet from the Meridian Road intersection.

The Commissioners are expected to discuss their plans with the County Park Board at its meeting tonight at 6 p.m. inside the County Administration Building (155 Indiana Ave., in Valparaiso).

As of this morning, the Animal Shelter is housing more than 100 cats, which Shelter Director Jon Thomas said is 20 more than its capacity, and approximately 45 dogs.

The summer months of May, June and July were exceptionally busy for the Shelter, Thomas said, with an influx of 152 cats and 184 dogs.

“It was bad,” Thomas said.

But August was a better month, with an upswing in the number of adoptions, Thomas said, and he expects the shelter to fare better in September as employees and volunteers will focus on trying to find homes for the excess of cats.

 

Posted 9/5/2013