Funding New Animal Shelter

Animal lovers throughout the Ohio Valley can sympathize with Monroe County Dog Warden Rhonda Piatt.

For more than a decade, Piatt has been attempting to get a new animal shelter built for her county. Now, it appears her efforts may be rewarded with success.

Though the shelter passes annual state inspections, it leaves much to be desired, according to some county officials. A description of the building might be found in the dictionary under the word “dilapidated,” to judge by details about its condition.

Since 2007, Piatt has been looking for a suitable location for a new animal shelter. This week, she told Monroe County commissioners she believes she has found a spot. It is on county-owned land near the Monroe Achievement Center Sheltered Workshop in Woodsfield.

Finding land on which to build a new shelter is just part of the battle. Paying to construct a new building may be more difficult.

Much of the money collected by the county through sale of dog licenses, at $16 each, goes to pay for personnel and supplies to operate the existing shelter. How much might be available for a new one is being studied.

Fortunately, a nice chunk of money is being donated by two Monroe County residents. One, Joe Bates, has volunteered at the shelter for more than 25 years. He raised $66,000 for a new one through a Go Fund Me campaign. He also has donated $25,000 out of his own pocket.

Another local resident, Betty Kahrig, has donated $20,000.

The combined $111,000 is a lot of money, but it probably is substantially short of the amount needed. Piatt plans to get an estimate from a contractor.

No doubt additional donations for the project will flow in as plans to replace the shelter are firmed up. Still, county commissioners are likely to be called upon to provide a substantial amount of public funding.

Commissioners seem supportive of the project — but, like so many local government entities, they are forced to watch their nickels and dimes to keep the county budget in balance.

They are required by law to maintain an adequate shelter, however. Not just for that reason but also to keep faith with the many county residents who are concerned about homeless animals, commissioners should build adequate funding for a new shelter into their budget.