Not-for-profit group could take over Porter County animal shelter
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 19, 2012 5:20PM
Updated: June 19, 2012 9:39PM
VALPARAISO — Porter County is in what Board of Commissioners John Evans described as the “infant stages” of negotiations for the not-for-profit animal rescue group Lakeshore PAWS to take control of the county’s animal shelter.
The upshot of the arrangement, if it works out, is that Lakeshore would pay for a new shelter without county dollars. The county would provide land for a new facility and, under contract, a portion of the shelter’s annual budget.
The commissioners sent a letter of intent to Jeanne Sommer, president and co-founder of Lakeshore, on Tuesday.
“Our priority is seeing that the animals receive the best care, socialization and adoption services, and I think it’s hard for a county to have that same priority because they have to protect the public, and that’s why we’re doing it,” Sommer said, adding talks began between the two entities in the last week.
County officials have discussed the possibility of a public/private partnership for a new shelter for several months.
A recent feasibility study for a new shelter, put together by Shelter Planners of America, put the price tag at $2.9 million.
Under the terms of the negotiations, which are not binding, the county would provide the land for a new shelter, and Lakeshore would take on the cost of building the facility. Lakeshore also would manage and control the shelter under contract.
County Councilwoman Laura Blaney, D-At-Large, had said during a recent Animal Shelter Advisory Board meeting that the county was willing to chip in $1 million toward the new shelter, but the county would not pay for any of the facility if the partnership with Lakeshore comes to fruition.
A donor has offered to match donations made toward a new shelter through the Porter County Community Foundation for what Blaney has described as “a significant amount.”
The shelter’s current budget is almost $600,000, Evans, R-North, said, though the county would not provide that much money toward running the shelter; that amount is yet to be determined. Animal control also would remain under the auspices of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department.
“We hope within the next four, five or six months to get something” in terms of a formal agreement with Lakeshore, Evans said.