Private donations sought to build dog shelter near jail

Tribune Staff Writer

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The woman pushing for a dog shelter to help the county deal with stray and abandoned dogs now has a way of raising private donations to pay for its $200,000 cost.

Debbie Hackman has been spearheading the drive to have the shelter built on county-owned property behind the jail, just east of Brownstown. The shelter, which would be operated in part by inmates, would replace a privately operated shelter the county uses to house strays collected by its animal control officer.

A week ago, Hackman received a variance for the shelter from the county board of zoning appeals provided she can obtain private funds to build it and could obtain a building permit within two years.

On Tuesday morning, Jackson County Commissioners voted 3-0 to allow Hackman to open a fund through the Community Foundation of Jackson County. That funding mechanism would make donations for the construction of the 9,000-square-foot block building tax-deductible.

Hackman, who also is executive director of the Jackson County Solid Waste Management District, estimates it will cost $200,000 to construct the low-kill shelter, which could hold 100 6-by-12-foot cages and up to two dogs each. If Hackman can obtain a permit by the end of the two-year period, construction would have to begin within 18 months.

Hackman said there currently is no funding available to build the $200,000 shelter, but a local committee of animal advocates and residents plan to raise the money through private donations.

The next meeting of that committee will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour. The meeting is open to anyone interested in becoming involved.

Hackman said the proposed shelter would have an enclosed area where the county’s full-time animal control officer could drive into to keep dogs from escaping. The new dogs would be isolated for five days.

A contracted veterinarian, who also could take care of sick or injured dogs and provide spay/neuter services, would provide vaccinations.

Besides the kennels, the shelter would have an indoor area for exercise but no outdoor runs. Animal waste would be eliminated by hosing it down a drain connected to the Brownstown Wastewater Utility.

Aggressive dogs or those with severe health problems would be euthanized by a veterinarian, Hackman said.

Inmates from the jail would be brought over and assigned specific duties with supervision from jail staff. The inmates would have no interaction with people coming to adopt dogs and would not be there when families or volunteers were there, Sheriff Michael Carothers said.

Currently, homeless dogs are taken to Red Sky Rescue, a nonprofit dog shelter in the Medora area. That shelter is run by 62-year-old Ruth Riley, who works with the county animal control officer to find homes for the dogs.

Riley offered her services to the county in 2008 on a temporary basis. Now, six years later, she said she’s overloaded with the number of dogs that are being dropped off, including dogs with litters of puppies. Earlier this month, she had about 55 dogs at her facility with about 22 in foster homes.

Carothers estimated the county picks up between 16 and 20 dogs a month.

If Hackman’s proposed shelter is built, Riley said she would continue to help with adoptions. Currently, she has a 93 percent success rate with placing dogs in permanent homes.

In addition, the $29,700 that Riley receives annually from the county could be used to operate the proposed shelter. Adoption fees and donations also would be used for operating costs.

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Want to donate or help with the future dog shelter? Contact Debbie Hackman at 812-525-9367.

The next meeting to discuss funding and building for the shelter will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour.