SIDNEY – A larger-than-expected crowd turned out for the open house and ribbon-cutting to officially christen the Bob Sargeant and Family Shelby County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, located at 610 Gearhart Road, on Sunday. The $2.4 million facility is a state-of-the-art shelter for dogs and cats that would be hopefully destined as future pets for county residents.
A crowd estimated at 1,500 people filed through center during the three-hour open house.
“It was a lot more than we expected,” said SCARF board member Joe Laber. “I think people came because this was such a public project they just wanted to see what their money, work and time, was all about.”
It was a four-year effort, driven by board members of SCARF, to bring the shelter into fruition. SCARF is the more common name for the Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation. A 30 percent increase in pet adoptions is anticipated, according to Laber.
The mission of SCARF is to raise funds to support the Shelby County Animal Shelter in safe adoptions, education and community outreach concerning abused and neglected animals, medical procedures, eliminating euthanasia of adoptable animals, and maintaining best practices.
Laber said the county will continue to pay salaries and operational costs of the shelter as before. SCARF will continue to raise funds to offset costs of goods and services such as veterinarian needs, community education for pet adoption, and promote proper pet ownership.
Those speaking at the dedication lauded the SCARF effort praising the fact the members come from all walks of life and are multi-generational.
Dream come true
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said the project was a “dream come true” with SCARF being the backbone of the cause. He said the group used teamwork, compassion, and generations working together to create a legacy.
Lenhart said he was reluctant at first to oversee the animal shelter project in his role as sheriff. Following an inspection of the former animal shelter, building new was the best option. As the plan developed following a large recession, Lenhart said Shelby County Commissioners were in agreement a new center was needed, but funding such a project was wishful thinking.
“SCARF said we could do this and it became a community project,” said Lenhart. He noted that donation came in many forms, including aluminum cans from Sidney City Schools students.
On hand, was Bob Sargeant, who donated $500,000 towards development of the shelter. The late Lawrence Piper, who donated $300,000 was also noted among major donors.
The new shelter is located on land donated by the county. The 7,998-square-foot building features a heating and air-conditioning system especially designed to prevent the spread of disease among resident animals, a quarantine area, a records room, a puppy room, a welcome area, an exam room, a laundry area, a gift shop, storage areas, offices, an outreach center, restroom and shower areas, outdoor play areas and kennels for 60 dogs and cats.
The committee consulted Shelter Planners of America opting for plans that was a fit for the population, intake and future needs.
The animal shelter is a county office that also sells dog licenses, answers calls for stray dogs, complaints of dogs running at large, as well as any humane complaints. The shelter officers enforce Section 955 of the Ohio Revised Code concerning dogs within the county.
The dog warden is Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelli Ward with the deputy dog warden Deputy Cody Ferguson. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hill of Hope
Laber referred to the new shelter as the “Hill of Hope.” The facility sits atop a hill of Gearhart Road.
“This gives more hope to pets in Shelby County thanks to you, “Laber said to all donors and volunteers.
During her prayer of blessing, Pastor Eileen Hix gave thanks for being able to provide a “caring and loving home” for future pets.
SCARF President Deb Hovestreydt said the organization shared the mission to prove that Shelby County was a very generous county. She introduced others that included Julie Ehemann, Cinda McAlexander, Shelby Gibbs, John Scheu, Benji Breinich, Bob Baird, Dominique Christman, Nicole Laber and Karen Wise.
Commissioner Julie Ehemann presented a proclamation honoring Deputy Frank Bleigh and the K-9 unit, Bandit, for the Oct. 9 rescue of a missing three-year-old local boy. She also introduced officers and K-9 deputies from Darke and Miami Counties, Dayton City Police and Dayton International Airport.
According to information on the SCARF website at www.helpshelbycountyanimals.com, the shelter is open to people looking for a new pet, those looking for a missing pet, and to people who just want to look at the animals.
It also states, they accept dogs and cats from owners as well as strays. A fee may be involved for owner surrenders. They are here for owners of lost dogs to claim their animals or report a lost animal. They have a bulletin board for people to offer animals to good homes and they have free information to the public on a variety of issues.
The new facility includes a reception area with Re-Tail Shop, indoor get acquainted room and outdoor play areas, expanded dog kennel, cat areas, grooming station, community outreach center, heated kennel floors, heavily insulated pet doors, easy cleaning kennel floors, courtyard, enclosed carport and central power washer.
When asked, what is the driving force for those volunteering with SCARF, many along for the long haul, Laber said he felt many board members shared his opinion.
“Our hearts go out for homeless pets. We know with the shelter that many more will be saved so many more will be adopted. It’s our passion; it’s where our heart is.
“When you look into the eyes of an animal you can just see the love they have to offer. They need to find a loving, forever home.”
Reach the writer at 937-539-4822.