LAHARPE — Janice and Robyn Porter are not related, but they are kindred spirits in their passion for animals.
Wednesday afternoon Janice, director of ACARF, and Robyn, whose self-assumed duties are too many to list, talked about the successes of the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility — and its challenges.
“We’re in the hole, there’s no other way to put it. We owe quite a bit of money,” Janice said.
ACARF depends on donations to fund its annual budget of $125,000.
At first blush that might sound like a handsome sum, but when ACARF’s responsibilities are considered, the figure deserves another take.
At any given time 50 or more dogs and at least 30 cats are in kennels. That number can easily exceed 100 when litters of puppies or kittens are born. The bare necessaries of caring for the animals and the paperwork and administration required of such an enterprise demand better than five full-time paid positions.
Janice, who has been involved with ACARF since its inception almost seven years ago, said the jobs are “a labor of love. All of us could make more money doing practically anything else.”
Other pressing costs are for utilities and feed, with dogs alone consuming about 50 pounds a day. Sustenance became more of a financial issue this year. Previously, an anonymous company provided free feed. Now the center purchases it from a Philadelphia-based company, Greyhound Adoption. While the prices are greatly reduced from retail, nothing beats free.
Each animal is also vaccinated and neutered or spayed before being given for adoption.
A blown boiler added $6,000 to costs a few months ago.
Despite such challenges, both of the women’s enthusiasm for the ACARF mission remains strong.
THROUGH WEDNESDAY 1,916 pets had been adopted over ACARF’s tenure.
Many have found homes in or near Allen County, and others have gone to new homes throughout the Midwest, from the Gulf of Mexico — one found a home in New Orleans recently — and the Canadian border. Others are as far away as Maine.
The New Orleans-bound dog made the journey by air. “There’s a network of pilots who volunteer — they like the opportunity to fly for any reason — to pick up and deliver animals,” Robyn said. Another group makes arrangements for long-distance transfers by vehicle in a relay, from one to another.
A semi-trailer, fitted with kennels, occasionally carries ACARF animals on a route that fits into an online network.
Such transfers occur for animals that are adopted directly from ACARF. Hundreds of others are transferred to rescue shelters — Wayside Waifs, Kansas City, one in Lawrence, and Prairie Paws in Iowa, are three — that are breed-specific or work with prospects to find large or small dogs or ones that are young or older.
(Dogs are mentioned somewhat generically because many adopt cats as well.)
Another need is volunteers.
“We don’t ask volunteers to clean up poop, but we do need help with walking dogs,” Janice said. “We can turn the dogs out (into pens adjacent to the shelter) but it’s much better if we have a volunteer with them,” giving them encouragement and a pat on the head.
WHILE expenditures have exceeded income in recent months, the financial story would be much more depressing without Second Chance, a second-hand store on South Street, half a block south of Madison Avenue.
“The volunteers who run Second Chance are great,” Janice said. “I don’t know where we’d be without them and the money they raise through sales,” all of which goes directly to ACARF. The store also has a room and amenities where dogs may be bathed.
The City of Iola has a contract with the shelter and pays $90 for each dog brought there by the police department’s animal control officer. “With the contract we take every dog they bring,” Janice noted. The $90 is used for vaccinations, examinations and feed. “We also have verbal contracts with some other cities but take animals from them only when we have room,” she said.
Being a no-kill shelter, which by definition means at least 93 percent of animals that arrive leave alive, euthanasia seldom occurs. ACARF’s rate of live exits is 97 percent.
“The only animals we put down are ones that are aggressive and can’t get along with children, or those that are so ill that treatment would be too expensive for us,” Janice pointed out.
Adoption costs are $50 for cats, $100 for a dog six months or older and $150 for a dog younger than six months. The fees ensure the pet is fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered and healthy.
ACARF’s Facebook page includes a clearing house feature for pets lost or found while its website, www.acarf.org, has a current database of animals available for adoption.
Potential donors may contribute at ACARF, 305 E. HWY 54, LaHarpe 66751; through PayPal on the Facebook page or website; or by filling out an automatic bank withdrawal form, available at the facility’s office. Automatic withdrawal is preferred because it gives a clear reading of ACARF donations each month, helpful for budgeting.
The LaHarpe facility is open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.