County Commissioners OK $68K In ARPA Funds To AWL

Felines will soon get their own space away from the dogs at the Animal Welfare League, and the Kosciusko County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to help.

John Lantz, president of the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County Board of Directors, requested $68,460 from the county’s ARPA funds for a cat house building renovation. The county’s ARPA committee recommended funds be used for that purpose.

“We’re doing a lot of great things at our shelter, with our new executive director coming on last year in June, leaving her family business to take over, and that’s about when I joined the Board,” he said. “We’ve got some new things going on in our Board. We’re restructuring the Board, we’re getting contributing members. Working with John Hall and Dan Woods and doing some great things in the community.”

He said they’re doing some great things to “get back on track. It seemed like we were lost for a while there in the community.”

New to the AWL, that he said has never been done before, is their annual report and they’re sharing it “all over the community to let people know what we’re doing.”

He said they’re going before all the town councils in the county to share the AWL story and ask for help as well.

“When our new shelter was built – it’s a beautiful facility if you haven’t been there – but there’s a few things there that aren’t working very well for us. One of them is our cat room that is right next to the barking dogs. Our intake is mixed with dogs and cats, and intake is where we have to quarantine animals before we can put them in the general population of the shelter,” he said.

Lantz said they are remodeling a building on the campus that was there when the AWL bought the property to make the building a cat house. It will have isolated intake, two isolation rooms for medical problems and cat suites upfront.

“So we are asking for help to finish the outside. We’ve got the inside pretty much done. We put new windows in. Added some windows so these animals that are in our care get natural daylight for them, which is so important to their health and welfare,” he said.

He said it will be a great facility when it’s done and Dr. Carla Carlton has guided them on this endeavor, which started in September.

Through the Community Foundation and the Bradway Fund, he said they’ve already raised about $12,000 for the exterior project. They still need two HVAC systems, so that’s part of the financial request, but they’re also going to peel off the old metal on the roof and put new siding on as well.

“We have an ever-growing population of cats right now: 208 in our care. We have 82 dogs in our care with 11 dogs in foster homes. Last year, we had 659 feline intakes, so we’re always growing. We’ve got a lot of fosters, but we always seem to get overpopulated this time of year,” Lantz said.

Commissioner Cary Groninger said the ARPA committee is looking for things to fund that have countywide impact as well as things with a lasting impact that are more capital expenditures, and AWL’s request fit into that “realm of what we looking to try to accomplish with those funds.” He said AWL’s request does serve the county as a whole as animals from all over the county end up at the shelter.

The $68,460 to the AWL was approved unanimously by the Commissioners.