The Porter County Board of Commissioners has requested that the Porter County Park Foundation transfer four to five acres of land it owns at Sunset Hill Farm County Park on US Highway 6 to Porter County Government, on which a new state of the art Porter County Animal Shelter will be built. A new animal shelter at Sunset Hill will create unique opportunities for the Porter County Parks Department and the Porter County Animal Shelter to work together to fulfill their missions for the benefit of the taxpayers of Porter County.
Benefits To The Porter County Parks
The placement of the Porter County Animal Shelter at Sunset Hill is not contrary to the programming of the Parks Department. Instead, it offers an opportunity to begin integrating joint programs between the two entities for a growing need in our Porter County parks. There are an estimated 127,000 people in Porter County who have a pet in their home. That is over 77% of the total population of Porter County. This is an untapped market for the Porter County Parks Department, as it offers only one program targeted to pet owners. (The Sunset Hill Dog Walkers). According to the 2011 PetMD Survey, pet owners “...consistently look for ways to improve the quality of their pets' lives.”
The Porter County Animal Shelter has effectively tapped into the pet owning population of Porter County. The Animal Shelter Facebook page has nearly 12,000 fans, and reaches between 30,000 to 70,000 Facebook users every week. These dedicated Shelter supporters have contributed tens of thousands of dollars in donations of money and materials to the Shelter. The Porter County Animal Shelter placement at Sunset Hill can create a synergy currently unavailable to the Parks Department.
Together, the Parks Department and Shelter can create programming to address an unmet need in current Parks programs, draw residents to the programs, and increase fee revenues for the Parks Department.
Benefits To The Porter County Animal Shelter
There is ovewhelming agreement that Porter County needs a NEW animal shelter. The only question that remains is at what location. In 2011, Shelter Planners of America prepared a needs assessment that identified two critical criteria for placement of a new Shelter.
1. “Locating shelters in high-visibility locations not only increases visitors and the number of pets adopted to new homes and returned to owners, but it also reduces the need for animal euthanasia and helps build public awareness and community goodwill. Coupled with an active adoption promotion program, the location and visibility factor can greatly increase adoptions and reduce animal euthanasia at the Porter County Animal Shelter.” The location on US Highway 6 at Sunset Hill Farm County Park UNIQUELY meets this important criteria. No other location under consideration meets this criteria.
2. “It is important that the new shelter be centrally located to the area it serves... If the shelter were located in a far corner of the jurisdictions, and driving time should much exceed 15 minutes, people would be less likely to use it. The longer drive would mean people being unlikely to come to look for lost pets or visit for adoptions.” The location on US Highway 6 at Sunset Hill Farm County Park is centrally located and within 15 minutes of Porter County municipalities that comprise 58% of the population of Porter County. And that doesn't even include the populations of unincorporated areas surrounding those municipalities. There is no other viable location that is more centrally located.
Another critical recommendation in the Shelter Planners needs assessment was that “The new shelter should implement a full education program right from the beginning that will reach out into the community to promote a message of responsible pet ownership along with humane treatment of all animals. One very beneficial education program that can be implemented would be obedience classes for pet owners. The basic underlying message of the education program will be to promote the importance of all pet owners spaying and neutering all family pets. The other component of the program is to educate in basic proper animal care, feeding, housing, health care, licensing and obedience training.” By building the new Shelter on US Highway 6 at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, the Parks Department and Shelter can work as partners to create programming and address an unmet need in current Parks programs, draw residents to the programs, and increase fee revenues for the Parks Department while meeting this critical need for community education.