The wide-eyes and full smile of a two-year old as he told everyone he passed
“we got a new kitty,” conveyed the story of Monday’s open house at the
Porter County Animal Shelter.
After a tumultuous summer full of negative publicity, the rehabbed shelter
reopened to a crowd of more than 300 community members wanting to see the
results of weeks of work by volunteers and staff.
They weren’t disappointed, but the quest to improve animal care in Porter
County is only beginning.
Freshly-painted walls, newly-epoxied floors, improved temperature control,
increased dog runs, new disease-controlling cat cages and a new veterinarian
care room did the job of making the shelter a suitable home for the animals.
However, the improvements couldn’t change the fact that Porter County needs
to replace the aging structure that wasn’t built to be an animal shelter.
“This is a good cleanup that is nice,” county council president Dan Whitten,
one of the harshest critics of the shelter this summer, said. “I think
anything that is no longer animal cruelty is a step in the right direction,
but my vision is a new facility where we can do this job with integrity.
“We shouldn’t be putting Band-Aids on a mortal wound.”
With the majority of the county’s officials on hand at the opening, most
echoed that same sentiment. County commissioner Nancy Adams, who has taken
the lead on improving conditions at the shelter and put in hours of painting
and cleaning herself, mentioned the need for a new facility in her speech at
“We are definitely moving in a positive direction,” Adams said. “We are
starting to see some dreams come into reality. Now, we are gunning for a new
With the commissioners and council seemingly in agreement that for the
county to do an effective job of animal control a new structure is needed,
the only stumbling block will be coming up with the funding for what will be
more than a $1 million project.
“I think that’s everybody’s goal,” commissioner president John Evans said.
“And I think it can happen. (The commissioners) are going to be bringing a
plan to the council. Everybody wants to help the animals and I don’t think
there’s anyone that can’t see the physical need.”
Evans and Adams’ hope is to get a new shelter in the next year and then use
the renovated building as a place for the sheriff to bring newly-found
animals, unruly animals or a place to provide treatment to sick pets. These
uses could bring down the cost of a new facility.
The commissioners will address the shelter issue and the rest of their
budget at the Oct. 3 county council budget hearing.
In the meantime, the $20,000 overhaul of the existing structure drew rave
reviews from staff, volunteers and the public. Doubling the number of dog
runs, fixing the floors to prevent the spread of disease and creating a
dedicated space for a new-full-time veterinarian technician, who will start
Oct. 1, are all positive improvements. The further cooperation of the
county’s veterinarians, who’ve pooled resources to provide the shelter with
35 new stainless steel cat cages worth about $12,000, is also good news.
The best news from the two-hour open house though was that more than 20
animals found new homes.
“That’s what it really all comes down to, finding homes for these animals,”
shelter director Kristina Montgomery said. “All of the hard work that has
gone into these improvements has helped us make the best of an insufficient
building. Happier animals are more adoptable animals.”