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Humane Society wants Portage animals to go to county shelter

Updated: October 2, 2013 6:35AM



PORTAGE — The Humane Society of Hobart would like to see the city of Portage take its animals to the Porter County Animal Shelter because what was supposed to be a temporary agreement between the two has stretched on too long.

“This cannot go on indefinitely,” said Carol Konopacki, the Humane Society’s treasurer and former longtime director, in a strongly worded Aug. 6 letter to Mayor Jim Snyder and other city officials.

The letter said the fees the Hobart shelter charges to the city could go up at the start of January if it doesn’t make other plans, and the shelter might stop taking bite cases.

City officials are aware of the problem and are trying to come up with a solution, said Assistant Police Chief Bill Mesich, but options are limited because other area shelters are either already at capacity or too far away.

“We’re trying to make efforts to house our animals — at least the bite cases and the criminal cases — with the Porter County shelter,” he said.

Portage has its own animal control department and takes its animals to the Hobart shelter, while the rest of Porter County relies on animal control through the Porter County Sheriff’s Department. Those animals are brought to the county shelter.

The city last signed an agreement with Hobart in January 2005, Mesich said.

The Hobart shelter has the capacity for 80 animals, though it has had 150 to 160 for much of the summer. The shelter takes in about 40 animals a month from Portage, Konopacki said. “We’re hoping they could go to Porter County.”

Mesich agreed the Hobart shelter’s largest number of animals comes from the city. He, too, hopes to be able to take more animals to the county shelter.

“That is our ultimate goal, that we would take all of our animals to the Porter County shelter, because we have no other options,” he said.

Jon Thomas, director of the Porter County Animal Shelter, said he was contacted about taking in the bite cases, but there hasn’t been any discussion about taking animals beyond that for the coming year.

His shelter has been over capacity as well, taking in 152 cats and 184 dogs in the late spring and early summer.

“It would be taxing on us. We would help as best we could, but I don’t think we could take all their animals,” he said.

The county has been considering a new shelter for some time. The Porter County Board of Commissioners earmarked $1.5 million in hospital interest proceeds for a new facility, but the request has not gone before the council because commissioners want something concrete first. An anonymous donor also has offered a considerable match for a new shelter.

The commissioners are approaching the Porter County parks board about putting a shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, at Meridian Road and U.S. 6.

Mesich would like to see plans for a new shelter move forward soon.

“We would be put in a bind if we no longer have the Hobart Humane Society by the end of the year,” he said. ”We would really appreciate it if the county would move on this very quickly.”



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