WARSAW — The five-year capital campaign and building project of the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County is now scant months from completion. The new 13,000-square-foot headquarters, which doubles the organization’s capacity to tend to animals placed under its care, is slated to open late summer or early fall.
“We are setting it up to be a premier medical facility for animals,” said Katey Wilks Zemen, AWL’s executive director.
“We partner with a multitude of rescue organizations for wild and farm animals. We also partner with area community veterinarians and we have vet technicians on staff.
“This has been a long time coming. I have just been so touched by the amount of support the community has given us. I have the best job in the world.”
The current animal shelter’s capacity is about 1,500 pets and strays a year “because we don’t have enough space.” The new facility will up that total to more than 3,000.
Zemen said people bring in animals for “a multitude of reasons,” including:
• They don’t have the finances to take care of their pet. “They may have gotten the pet as a gift or they miscalculated the costs of ownership.”
• They are moving to an apartment or nursing home.
• They found a stray.
• There are “extenuating medical circumstances” the owner is not prepared to handle.
• The pet is exhibiting significant behavioral issues.
The new facility, located at 1048 S. 325E, just south of US 30 east of Warsaw, will include offices, an intake room, a lab for on-site spaying and neutering, an exam room, an educational wing for “public and staff education as well as community activities like cat yoga” and on-site grooming facilities.
Another area will include meet and greet “cuddle rooms” where individuals and families can get acquainted with prospective adoptees.
The facility will also house an indoor dog walk track and a 20-foot silo just outside the front door will accommodate 18 cats in a climate-controlled environment.
Outdoor runs will be added at a future date. “We’re still working on those details,” said Zemen.
The league’s 14 employees will benefit from the expansion as well. “We will have a designated break room,” said Zemen. “Currently our break room is being used by three people as their offices.”
The new location will also increase the league’s laundry capabilities. ALW staff currently does 15 or more loads of blankets, towels and rags every day. “We are a minimal waste facility, so we use minimal paper products,” said Zemen.
The facility’s household pet population can be a diverse lot. Zemen cited residents such as “rodents like guinea pigs, rabbits, spiders, birds and snakes. Once we got a chicken and a pig.”
The land for the $2.3 million project was purchased three years ago and a groundbreaking was held November 2018. “The construction companies we are partnering with have been outstanding,” Zemen said. “I can’t say enough about them. They really understand the need in the community.”
AWL still needs $700,000 to pay off the project. The organization’s website, www.awlwarsaw.com, lists the current needs and amounts. Available sponsorships include dog kennels for $1,000 to $1,500 each, cat cages at $750, meet and greet rooms at $7,000 apiece and larger ticket items such as $50,000 for the healing and care laboratory and exam room.
For more information, call (574) 267-3008.