Indiana County Humane Society ready to open new, roomier shelter

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Sep 23, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

About 185 cats and dogs waiting for adoption have been relocated to a more spacious and healthier home as the Indiana County Humane Society prepares to begin operations in its new $1.7 million shelter on Airport Road in White Township.

“We’re moving about 150 cats and 30 to 35 dogs,â€� Reed Booth-Fairman, president of the society and the shelter’s volunteer administrator, said before the recent transfer of animals. “We hope the new facility will increase the number of people coming in to look at the animals.â€�

Pending an inspection, the society plans to open the doors of the new shelter this week. The move required the use of cages and vans and trucks to transport the animals from the previous shelter off Haven Drive, just west of Indiana Borough, to the new site on the opposite side of the community.

The new 9,144-square-foot shelter contains 28 kennels for dogs, a small puppy room and 10 cages for quarantined canines. For feline residents, there are 36 individual cages, four cat towers and a cat colony.

“It’s bigger living facilities,â€� said Lisa Wier, the society’s kennel manager and a humane officer since 1992. “It has a new, healthier environment with air exchange for the cats. We also have a get-acquainted room for individuals to spend time with animals.â€�

The Humane Society had been operating since 1997 in donated space in the basement of an aged barn owned by the county. The building lacks ventilation and adequate space and is in need of repair.

“It’s a worn-out, old barn,â€� Booth-Fairman said. “We have no ventilation. It’s hard to keep the animals from illnesses. It’s a depressing environment. People who come to look to adopt a pet tell us it is depressing.â€�

She noted the new shelter is at least 33 percent larger.

Construction for the new shelter began in 2008, but a shortfall in funding caused delays, Booth-Fairman said. She noted that some substantial pledged funds from the community weren’t received.

“We scrambled to see if we could get other donors,� she said. “We got new donors.�

While the society is still challenged by a funding shortfall, she said, “We’re going to get the job done. It’s just taking longer and is more labor-intensive than we thought it would be. We’re spending time writing letters for grants and fundraising.â€�

Booth-Fairman said 80 percent of the society’s operating budget comes from donations and fundraising.

The society, which works with other animal organizations including Animal Friends of Pittsburgh and Four Footed Friends in Indiana, manages the constant need for animal care under the strain of inadequate resources.

“There is a huge overpopulation of cats in the county,� Booth-Fairman said. “There are strays, people who do not spay or neuter cats that add to the overpopulation, and students who adopt cats then leave them when they leave town.�

In July, the society took in 196 cats. “The majority were strays or feral,� Wier said. “Every summer we have lots of cats. They breed every six to eight weeks. They multiply.�

It takes about a week to determine if a cat is feral or not, Wier said: “Just because it comes in and acts feral doesn’t mean it is feral. Some have had no human contact. Some are scared and act feral.â€�

Wier noted the most difficult aspect of her job is “nurturing them back to adoption.�

“The owner may have neglected them,� she said. “They are living beings that depend on us to take care of them. They need vet care, food, water and shelter. We have to provide for them.�

Wier said some pets are reunited with owners when the pet has been fitted with an identifying microchip, But most animals at the shelter wait to be adopted.

“We want to give them a better life, and that is a good feeling,� Wier said. “There is no limit on time we keep them. It should be a lifetime decision when you get a pet. There are a lot of expenses involved. People need to think about the expenses before they get an animal.�

In addition to cats and dogs, the society has housed and cared for ferrets, rats, gerbils, hamsters and other animals that go into foster care.

While the society offers special rates at times, the normal adoption fee for a dog or puppy is $125 and includes the first round of shots, a microchip, flea treatment and deworming. All cats are vaccinated and may be adopted for a fee of $40, $50 if the pet is tested for leukemia.

There are also special adoption rates for seniors and veterans. All adoptions are processed with the prospective owner first completing an application and signing a contract. Wier said that, under Pennsylvania law, all animals adopted from the Indiana County Humane Society must be spayed or neutered.

“We have a local vet that gives us a discount on services,� she said.

The society is in need of ongoing funding to meet the demand of animal care.

“We rely heavily on donations, bequeaths and fundraising,� Booth-Fairman said.

Upcoming fundraisers include Crash for Critters, a demolition derby and truck pull that will be held at noon Oct. 4 at the Indiana County fairgrounds.

Bark Against Violence is set for Oct. 25 at Homer City’s Floodway Park and will be held in cooperation with a local groomer and with the Alice Paul House, an organization that helps human victims of domestic violence. The event will include a pet costume contest as well as various speakers addressing topics of domestic violence, animal abuse and neglect, and positive pet training methods.

For more information about the Indiana County Humane Society and its activities, or to make a donation, call 724-465-3977 or visit incohumanesociety.com.

Debbie Black is a freelance writer.

Article source: http://triblive.com/news/indiana/6807554-74/society-shelter-county

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