PIERCETON — The new building for the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County is tentatively set to open on Oct. 1.
“The overall construction of the building should be done by the end of this week, weather permitting,” said Katey Wilks Zemen, AWL executive director. “Right now, I would say we are about 85 percent of the way to being finished entirely.”
The new shelter, located along US 30 at 1048 S. CR 325E, east of Warsaw, will house twice the number of cats, dogs and other animals that can be housed at the current facility just a mile or so away.
“We’re going to be able to double the amount of kennels we have and provide an animal shelter this community so greatly deserves,” said Zemen. “We had an appraiser recently come in and look at the new building and it means a lot when they look at that and say it’s one of the best animal shelter facilities they have ever seen.”
Key features of the new shelter include independent quarantine for dogs and cats, an inside dog run, free-roaming cat observation room, an animal education center and separate cuddle rooms for dogs and cats.
“As of now, we are set to hold an open house for the new building sometime in early September,” said Zemen. “The last week of September, the AWL will not be open as we’ll be taking that time to transport animals and allowing time to adjust to a new building.”
Currently, the AWL is still seeking funds for its new building and is holding its third annual summer BBQ from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at the facility next to the new shelter. The cost is $5 per person or $20 per family.
“There will be food, a garage sale, silent auction, face painting and more,” said Zemen.
AWL has approximately $800,000 left to raise. The entire project is expected to cost $2.4 million.
Zemen also said recent events involving Kosciusko Animal Control Officer Jerry Clase have had no effect on the AWL’s fundraising efforts.
“He does not work for the shelter,” said Zemen. “But I also wouldn’t say some misunderstandings on Jerry working for us have affected our fundraising efforts at all. And on our end, we only euthanize animals in extreme situations. I don’t think people gave Darla [former AWL executive director] enough credit. Before she stepped in, this was far from an ideal facility that focused on pet life. And now, we recently had a cat who has been with us for 13 months and just got adopted out. Anyone who has concerns is always welcome to reach out to me.”
In regards to the new facility’s needs, Zemen said the AWL is still seeking sponsorships for the new building.
“People can reach out to me if they’re interested in donating to the facility,” said Zemen. “I’m just very grateful for the public’s patience during this huge transition. We really do have one of the best communities ever.”