The Fulton County Humane Society has a new location, and Executive Director Steve Wanner wants the public to feel at home there.
On Saturday, July 1, he’ll show off the facility north of Wauseon at 14720 County Road J, just off State Route 108, with an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that will include refreshments from Red Rambler Coffees. Wanner hopes it will showcase not only the dogs and cats available for adoption but the county’s care and concern towards its animal friends.
“We’re having the open house for the community to come to see what we have to offer for them,” he said. “We want to feel that the Humane Society is part of the community.”
The former pet boarding facility was purchased at auction by Wanner and his wife Tracey for $73,000. The couple is leasing the building to the county’s non-profit Humane Society for $1 per year, and hope in the future to donate it to the organization. It holds 24 dog kennels and a separate area of cages for cats. What was a grooming room will be transformed into an office for two veterinarians who donate their skills.
The building opened with business hours June 5. The kennels have been painted, and Wanner is looking into signage out front and someone who may donate tall fencing for the dogs’ play area. He is also searching for teenagers and adults to volunteer this summer to play with and exercise the dogs.
At present, five dogs are housed there including one that recently gave birth. The dogs are brought from the county dog pound for adoption or are surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them. The owners are charged a $50 surrender fee, and all breeds are accepted.
The building is also home to 16 kittens and two cats, one of whom beat the odds and survived a battle with an unknown predator. As with the dogs, all are spayed or neutered and vaccinated before being cleared for adoption.
The facility is so new that neither dog adoption fees nor cat-surrender fees have been determined. Wanner said in the case of dogs the fee may equal the cost of covering their initial needs.
He said the only time euthanization of an animal will be considered is if it is too ill or too aggressive to be adopted. A veterinarian will decide the former, and Wanner and a veterinarian trained in dog behavior the latter.
Otherwise, Wanner said, “If it’s healthy, it will be here forever,” until adopted.
Six volunteers rotate the facility’s duties, although Wanner, who retired from the City of Wauseon in 2005, currently spends up to 14 hours daily between the dogs and office responsibilities. Tracey, who still works full-time, volunteers part-time to care for the cats.
The Wanners stockpiled some supplies in anticipation of the facility’s opening, but have received several generous business donations to assist with purchases. They also have formed an association with Chicken Soup for the Soul, a Connecticut-based company that donates its brand pet food to humane societies and pet shelters. And one of the Humane Society’s seven board members will be trained to write grant proposals for additional funding.
Wanner estimates the Humane Society will cost $2,000 per month to operate.
Tasha Small, a veterinarian at Pondview Veterinary Clinic in Archbold, is a Humane Society board member and contributes her services. She said before she was approached about getting involved she wasn’t aware Fulton County had a Humane Society.
“I think it’s super important,” she said. “My hopes are that they can get some unwanted animals and find them wanting homes. People don’t realize how many unwanted animals there are in our county.”
Small added, “I thought I needed to help out as much as I could because I want it to be successful.”
Despite the hurdles the facility is facing, Wanner finds them worth the rewards. He volunteered for a rescue shelter for several years, and fostered dogs in his home before adopting them out.
“I really like dogs,” he said. “Dogs put me in a good mood because they’re appreciative of what you do for them. I think the thing I enjoy most is getting a dog, seeing the progression that it makes, and seeing a family adopt one, especially when they have kids.”
Wanner said he and his wife are committed. “Between the two of us…this is what we wanted to do. It’s kind of a passion.”
What he most wants now is the public’s realization that Fulton County has a Humane Society building, and that it’s open and thriving.
Business hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.