Shelter for abandoned pets looking for a home of its own
Lease about to expire on site where Hearts of Life houses 84 dogs and cats
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

Nov. 15, 2006 - A private group that saves unwanted pets is in need of a little rescuing itself.

Hearts of Life Animal Rescue, a non-profit "no-kill" animal shelter run by volunteers that currently houses 84 dogs and cats, is set to lose the lease on the land at the end of the year.

Representatives of the group met with the Hopkins County Commissioners Court this morning, seeking grants and help in finding land for a new facility. They found a receptive audience in the commissioners, who say the problem of dumping stray dogs in the county is widespread.

"Most of the calls I get are about stray dogs," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker. "There is a tremendous need for this in the county."

Donnie Foster, who appeared before commissioners with Karen Lopez, said he fields five to six calls daily from people wanting him to pick up an animal, usually an unwanted pet someone has unceremoniously abandoned.

"I think if you live in the county, you have had a dog dumped on you at some point," Foster said.

Hearts of Life is looking for as much as 1 1/2 acres of land to build a shelter with 75 pens for animals.  That amount of acreage would also allow for outdoor pens in an emergency, and provide space for future expansion if needed.

Hearts of Life has seen a tremendous amount of support since it officially began operations in May. Some $10,000 has been donated to the volunteer group since that time, and local veteranarians "have been very good to us," Foster said. And in addition to the 60 canines (22 of them puppies under 10 weeks old) and 24 felines in the shelter on County Road 4510, another 13 pets are being cared for in "foster homes."

But the cost of housing and caring for so many dogs and cats is astronomical. Foster said last month alone he and Lopez put up more than $4,000 of their own money to help take care of the overflowing number of animals at the shelter.

Even then, they can't take in all the unwanted animals that are in the county. Foster and Lopez presented commissioners a list of more than 60 dogs and cats the shelter had to turn down for a lack of space.

In addition to Wisenbaker, the other members of the court — Precinct 2 Commissioner Burke Bullock, Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson, Precinct 4 Commissioner Danny Evans and Hopkins County Judge Millsap — all agreed the county needs a shelter for unwanted animals.

"This would also help with the wild dog problem and the rabies problem in the county," Wisenbaker noted.

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said helping the shelter wouldn't cost the county anything in terms of manpower or dollars — the county would simply help the group locate a site and help apply for grants.

If Hearts of Life doesn't get an extension of time after the lease is up, Foster said the animal pens would probably have to move into his back yard for a temporary home.

Danny Evans added that commissioners would keep an eye out for a temporary home for the shelter, as well as a permanent one.

Lease about to expire

on site where

Hearts of Life houses

84 dogs and cats

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK

News-Telegram Managing Editor

A private group that saves unwanted pets is in need of a little rescuing itself.

Hearts of Life Animal Rescue, a non-profit "no-kill" animal shelter run by volunteers that currently houses 84 dogs and cats, is set to lose the lease on the land at the end of the year.

Representatives of the group met with the Hopkins County Commissioners Court this morning, seeking grants and help in finding land for a new facility. They found a receptive audience in the commissioners, who say the problem of dumping stray dogs in the county is widespread.

"Most of the calls I get are about stray dogs," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker. "There is a tremendous need for this in the county."

Donnie Foster, who appeared before commissioners with Karen Lopez, said he fields five to six calls daily from people wanting him to pick up an animal, usually an unwanted pet someone has unceremoniously abandoned.

"I think if you live in the county, you have had a dog dumped on you at some point," Foster said.

Hearts of Life is looking for as much as 1 1/2 acres of land to build a shelter with 75 pens for animals.  That amount of acreage would also allow for outdoor pens in an emergency, and provide space for future expansion if needed.

Hearts of Life has seen a tremendous amount of support since it officially began operations in May. Some $10,000 has been donated to the volunteer group since that time, and local veteranarians "have been very good to us," Foster said. And in addition to the 60 canines (22 of them puppies under 10 weeks old) and 24 felines in the shelter on County Road 4510, another 13 pets are being cared for in "foster homes."

But the cost of housing and caring for so many dogs and cats is astronomical. Foster said last month alone he and Lopez put up more than $4,000 of their own money to help take care of the overflowing number of animals at the shelter.

Even then, they can't take in all the unwanted animals that are in the county. Foster and Lopez presented commissioners a list of more than 60 dogs and cats the shelter had to turn down for a lack of space.

In addition to Wisenbaker, the other members of the court — Precinct 2 Commissioner Burke Bullock, Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson, Precinct 4 Commissioner Danny Evans and Hopkins County Judge Millsap — all agreed the county needs a shelter for unwanted animals.

"This would also help with the wild dog problem and the rabies problem in the county," Wisenbaker noted.

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said helping the shelter wouldn't cost the county anything in terms of manpower or dollars — the county would simply help the group locate a site and help apply for grants.

If Hearts of Life doesn't get an extension of time after the lease is up, Foster said the animal pens would probably have to move into his back yard for a temporary home.

Danny Evans added that commissioners would keep an eye out for a temporary home for the shelter, as well as a permanent one.

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