By Laurie Lechlitner
WARSAW — “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for pets and people in need,” said John Lantz, Warsaw.
“My wife, Karen, and I have two sister Labrador rescue dogs, Lilly and Lacy, and two sister rescue cats, Josie and Jessie. I love seeing abandoned pets get forever homes.” Lantz is board president of the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County.
After retiring early, Lantz spent six years on the board of the all-volunteer Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry acting as board president for four of those years.
“Last year the Pet Food Pantry gave out over 100,000 pounds of free dry pet food, plus canned food, treats, litter, etc., to those struggling financially, including seniors, veterans, families, homeless and those with disabilities,” Lantz said.
“We have friends and family on Lake Tippecanoe who have wanted us to move closer for a long time. We’ve lived in Warsaw for a year and a half and love it in Kosciusko County. Local organizations are so involved making this community a better place for everyone. We have 587 nonprofit organizations in our county.”
The Animal Welfare League is just one of those 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serves all of Kosciusko County.
“After moving to the area, I knew I wanted to be part of AWL.” As board president of AWL, he chairs board meetings; writes grant applications; has administrative responsibilities; and works closely with the board, Executive Director Tonya Blanchard and her fabulous team.
“Our No.1 focus right now is to reach out to the community and tell our story. We’re getting ready to meet with area town councils sharing about AWL and our new Cat House. We’re available for speaking engagements.”
The AWL shelter staff has such passion working to find homes for shelter pets entrusted to their care. “We have happy stories every day of pets going home with loving families. Of course, we also have sad stories of people having to give up their pets.
“Last year we took in 1,313 pets at our facility. Every pet gets a complete wellness check. We provide microchips, vaccines, spay/neuter, and any needed health care. In 2021 we reunited 214 families with their pets because they had been microchipped. We are so thankful to have four area vet clinics that go above and beyond for our sick and injured pets at reduced rates for their care. Last year our total animal care expenses were $77,000.”
The AWL board is working on connecting and showing appreciation to their donors. “Those who support us are our lifeline,” Lantz stated. “We want our donors to come and see firsthand the difference they are making at our shelter. We couldn’t do it without them. We also appreciate our county and business supporters.”
Last year AWL adopted out over 500 cats at the Warsaw PetSmart.
AWL encourages senior citizens to adopt senior pets. “We feel that pets are so important to the health and well-being of our senior clients by keeping them active. Pets also provide unconditional love and companionship. For some, a dog or cat might be the only family they have living with them.”
John and Karten have been married for 41 years. They enjoy being outdoors and spending time with their labs.