Dominic, 6, visits with Benji, a dog up for adoption at the Clark County SPCA prior to their Open House at their new facility at 21 Walter St. on Saturday, January 6 from 4-7pm.

After nearly a year of fundraising and remodeling, the Clark County SPCA opened their doors to the public on Saturday, January 6, 2018 for tours and adoptions. During the Open House, area residents and supporters of the organization were able to visit and enjoy snacks and enter to win raffle prizes at the event.

On January 15 the doors will be open to accept owner released animals by appointment. Director Krissi Hawke noted that there is a waiting list for owner surrenders and that she will continue to work with the Clark County Dog Wardens to accept some animals however residents who “find” a dog running loose need to contact the Dog Wardens at 521-2140 for help. She is not taking in strays to the shelter at this time.

The shelter will be open Monday – Friday from 12 – 3 pm and the SPCA will continue to participate in offsite adoption events each Saturday. The SPCA does take in cats and kittens; however the Dog Warden does not. If you need more information, you can contact the office at 925-6602. They are located at 21 Walter Street in Springfield on the west side of town.

During our interview, Hawke shared that the shelter was her vision; however it was “the community pulling together” that made it a reality. She noted that there were just too many people to thank for their support to list them for this article. The numerous donations of time, talents and resources provided by individuals, businesses and organizations from across the county made the renovations possible noted Hawke.

The major donors for the project are recognized in some small way as you tour the building. Dr. Dana and Judy King donated funds from their foundation to help Hawke with the remodeling of the facility to meet strict codes set in place by the City of Springfield. The renovations alone totaled over $71,800. As a nod to the generous support of Dr. King, his wife and staff, the new cat room is decorated with an Ohio State Buckeyes theme.

The building was purchased by Hawke and her husband Damon from Cindy Landess at a reasonable price but as Landess neared the end of her life, she forgave the loan and donated the building so that Hawke could rescue animals and start the SPCA which is also an educational program. The visiting room/reading room is dedicated to Landess and has a mural of The Cat in a Hat painted by a volunteer.

PetSmart Charities has been a big supporter of the project through grants to the organization. The SPCA participates in weekly adoption events at the PetSmart store on Bechtle Avenue and has cats on display at the adoption center in the store.

Other expenses that the SPCA encountered in 2017 starting in March when the need to help with stray dogs and cats became apparent despite the fact the doors could not be open to the public. The failing Humane Society lead many owners who had to rehome their pets to Hawke and then when the doors closed unexpectedly in August, the kennel areas of the SPCA filled with dogs brought in by the Wardens. The SPCA spent over $13,500 for vetting the animals which includes the medications administered when a new animal comes to the shelter and then vet care. The community has generously donated directly to Northside Veterinary Clinic where the SPCA has an account. Dr. King and his staff also support the efforts of the organization and help with the injured and sick animals coming to Hawke as much as possible.

It isn’t all about the money needed to run the day to day operations of the shelter such as utilities, supplies, vehicles and continuing education for the director who is not paid a salary from the shelter, but works because she cares. The numbers of animals helped in 2017 show the real reason Hawke had the dream and set about finding the funding to help Clark County. The organization found new homes for 179 dogs and 187 cats. Also included in the total numbers for 2017 were 35 animals who went back home after being lost, 33 cats were spayed / neutered and released and only 20 animals were too sick or too injured to survive which is just 4.4 percent an amazing low number for any animal shelter.

With the help of volunteers, businesses and others in the community Hawke noted that the fundraisers and donations brought in $109,000 in 2017 but the work does not end there. She has no employees at this time, but will eventually need to hire some part time help. There are costs for filing her tax reports and the day to day operation of the shelter. “The support this year will determine if I will be successful” said Hawke of her plans to continue to fundraise and the need for the community to show their support with donations.

“I can’t stress enough how the community has come together to support this organization” said Hawke. She is very adamant that it is the kindness of the community through donations of time, resources and materials that she has made it this far. Her family stepped up to help with working at fundraising, preparing raffle baskets and volunteering to come and help with the painting, cleaning and other tasks to get the shelter open.

As someone who first saw the building when it was just a light in Hawke’s eyes, this reporter can tell you she has made an amazing transformation of the space. We have followed her efforts to raise the funds, to reach out to pet owners and to educate the public through programming with so much more to come.

In 2018 Hawke plans to implement a dog walking/running program where local volunteers can help to exercise the dogs. An after school reading program where local kids can come and read to dogs and improve their literacy skills is being planned.

She also plans to continue to work with schools and local organizations to educate the community on how to approach dogs and how to care for pets. As the county Humane Officer Hawke has seen a fair number of cruelty cases this past year as well and continues to educate and investigate reports along with the Dog Warden’s Office.

In 2018 volunteers will be needed to help with a Car Show, Poker Run, 5K Run Walk, Photo sessions for families and their pets and other events yet to be determined by the board.

You can learn more about becoming a volunteer make a donation or find about pets up for adoption by checking out the Clark County SPCA Facebook page. As of today they have 3,500 followers, but the numbers are growing. Hawke will continue to work with the Clark County Courts community service program and hopes to add the Work Experience Program this year as well.

When we interviewed Hawke last year as she began to pursue her dream she said she was determined to open the doors even if she had to do it one dollar a day to reach her goal. “I want to help where I can help” she said and as some of us knew would happen when she said “I went full speed ahead with both feet in” to start the paperwork to open the Clark County SPCA, it would just be a matter of sharing her dream with the right people and it would happen for the dogs, cats and families who need help in Clark County.

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