Those who live in Morrow and surrounding counties are familiar with the plight of our county dog shelter – a barely serviceable building in a flood plain tucked at the back of the Morrow County fairgrounds. Each time there is a severe storm, the topic of the shelter flooding is renewed – fingers are pointed and accusations fly with county government in the crosshairs. People are also aware of the severe funding issues faced by not only the dog shelter, but also all other county departments. Many important needs compete for very limited resources. Right or wrong, the dog shelter is not at the top of the list.
While there are several organizations in the county that do wonderful work in promoting all areas of animal welfare, a new group has been formed with one specific goal in its sites. The Friends of the Morrow County Dog Shelter seeks to raise money through private, corporate and organizational donations for the purpose of building the county a new dog shelter. The group believes that a new shelter can be built – with minimal dollars – through positive collaboration, community commitment, and creative fund raising activities.
The board of the newly formed group includes Sarina Atwell, Crystal Burch, Jennifer Tackett, Becky Payne, Laura Murnane, Donna Carver, Nikki Snider, Steve and Kathy Ball, and Nancy Collander, with Pat Davies as county government advisor. Nancy is point-person for the group and anyone who would like more information can email FriendsoftheMCDogShelter@gmail.com. The first several meetings will be for the board only while the group gets organized, then meetings will be open to any who would like to be involved, including businesses and other animal welfare groups.
The group first met in mid-January and several important topics were discussed. Pat and Sarina advised that the county commissioners care very much about all the residents of the county – the people and their pets – and that it is important for people to understand the constraints on their ability to spend county dollars. They also wanted to clarify that there is a separate fund for the shelter building within the Dog & Kennel Fund, and that donations directed to the building fund cannot be used for any other purpose. Individuals or organizations wishing to donate to the building fund must make their check out to Morrow County Dog Shelter, and specify “Building Fund” in the memo line. Checks should be sent to the Morrow County Dog Shelter, 80 W. Walnut St., Suite A, Mt. Gilead, OH, 43338. While the group does not currently have a 501c3 non-profit status, this will be in the works for the future.
The current building fund account stands at just under $13,000. By working with the county to secure a piece of land, it has been estimated that a new shelter building could be built for about $200,000. Friends of the MC Dog Shelter has a number of creative ideas for fund raising, and plans a national press release, a Facebook page, Twitter presence, and several large- and small-scale events, to be announced. Becky Payne and Laura Murnane have been involved in several successful funding events for other organizations and are bringing their experience to the new effort.
Businesses, individuals or organizations are, of course, welcome to donate money, but another creative idea is to have them sponsor part of the facility, or a program. For example, the dog meet-and-greet room, or an outdoor play area, could carry the name of the sponsoring organization. Spay and neuter or community education programs are other opportunities for sponsorship. This kind of involvement shows that while the building belongs to the county, it was built by the community for the betterment of the community.
The Friends of the Morrow County Dog Shelter is a group with a long-term commitment to its cause. Once the building is built the focus will turn to keeping the shelter running, additions or improvements, and developing community programs. Again, the group is open to volunteers, as well as creative working relationships with other animal welfare organizations. The next board-only meeting will be in late February. If you have ideas you would like to submit, or want to get involved in the near future, please send an email and Nancy will add you to the email list. Look for future articles in this series covering the history and progress of the Morrow County Dog Shelter, and community events.