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Open house Saturday showcases facility
CANNELTON - "Our furry friends ... We rescue their lives ... They rescue our hearts."
A sign etched with those words hanging in the kitchen of the Perry County Animal Shelter captures the mission of the new home for homeless dogs and cats - and the men, women and businesses whose time, talent and treasure led to its creation.
An open house Saturday offered the public a look at the new facility and offered a thanks to contributors who helped support the four-year-long effort to provide a modern facility for housing unwanted dogs and cats.
Gene Ritchie, a former president of the not-for-profit shelter's board of directors and a major supporter of the building, recapped the shelter's history. Ritchie said he and others began planning in the fall of 2003 to find a replacement for the former shelter. A board of directors was formed and fund raising started in February 2005. The former Hydro-Tex building on Herzeele Street was purchased in 2005 and work began soon thereafter.
A portion of the building is leased, providing income to the shelter and there remains another 3,000 square feet still to be leased, Ritchie said Saturday.
During the planning process, shelter organizers and public officials toured other facilities and raised both money and public awareness. The result was a modern, well-equipped shelter that will serve the community for years to come.
The facility's pens provide for easy cleaning and there are separate rooms for new animals that need to be isolated from others to prevent diseases from spreading. The building meets all codes and is fully accessible to those with disabilities. Its walls are fire-resistant and water lines under the concrete floors provide even, efficient heating.
There is an adoption room and offices for the shelter's staff, the county's animal-control officer and the Perry County Humane Society, whose members have supported the shelter.
Plaques near the shelter's entrance recognize contributors of money and in-kind services. Major contributors included the Edgar and Lucile Schergens Foundation, Louisville resident Harry Kletter and the Guy Neil and LaVerne Ramsey Foundation.
Other individuals and companies contributed much-needed labor and in-kind professional services.
As an example, Force Construction employees, a contractor then working at Waupaca Foundry, worked evenings at the shelter.
Also recognized Saturday were members of the board of directors, who donated time to the project, and officials of Branchville Correctional Facility. Offenders provide regular labor at the shelter and have initiated a program to prepare dogs, including those who need extra attention, for future adoption.
More than $320,000 was raised for the shelter, a sign of the community's support. However, additional operating funds will be needed for its continued success. Also needed are volunteers and residents willing to adopt animals in need.
Several dogs and puppies and a couple of cats were awaiting adoption Saturday and drew plenty of attention.
The shelter is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment. It also provides pet boarding. For more information, call 547-6381.