The tragedy of a local animal helper struck and killed on U.S. 24 Tuesday morning was a focus of the Fort Defiance Humane Society’s monthly board meeting Wednesday evening at ProMedica Defiance Hospital.

William Wales, 73, of Defiance, was struck and killed by a vehicle while attempting to remove a small animal carcass from the westbound lanes of U.S. 24, near the West High Street overpass. Wales had been well known for burying small animals struck and killed on local streets and roads, and taking in injured animals, particularly cats.

Wales, who had been diagnosed with cancer, cared for more than 60 cats at his home on Latty Street.

The board discussed the continuation of a donation program spearheaded by county humane agent Stacie Fedderke to help care for Wales’ cats. Last week she had requested items such as paper towels, cat food and cat litter to help Wales take care of his felines during what was a difficult time for him.

Justin F. Coressel Animal Shelter executive director Lisa Weaner said Wednesday that the program received “a lot of really good support from the community,” and she hopes it can continue as the humane society figures out what to do about Wales’ cats. Officials have been working with his family to have the cats cared for at his home, she indicated, with Fedderke spending much time on the matter.

“Anything we’re doing to care for his animals is basically going to come from community support, so that’s continuing,” Weaner told the board. “People are actually really stepping up and continuing to donate at the shelter as well. We had a pretty big donation today — several big bags of food and litter and such, canned food etc.”

Besides setting up donation locations for the aforementioned cat-care items, officials also were requesting help for Wales’ bills at a Napoleon veterinarian’s office. Weaner reported Wednesday that the vet bill had been paid.

IDEXX Laboratories, Weaner explained, will be donating testing for the cats while several others in the animal care industry are donating supplies and their help as well. However, the condition of the cats is not an issue, according to Fedderke.

“Just so you know, his cats are in good condition,” she stated. “It’s not like you’re going into a mess. That’s not it. He takes very good care of the animals. We just have to double check to make sure. He took phenomenal care of all those animals.”

The hope is to have the cats adopted to new homes (at no charge), according to Weaner.

“We’re kind of working through a game plan,” she said. “I think our first go around will be trying to get the community — to open it up for adoption for them — not at any charge, but just trying to get them homes.”

Board member Gary Dowler also read an email he received from Wales’ former brother-in-law (Charlie Beard) expressing appreciation to Fedderke for her help in trying to relocate the cats.

As for the possibility of the humane society taking in Wales’ cats, officials have stated in recent months that space at the animal shelter on Ohio 15 has been pushed to capacity, so that is not a viable option. According to Weaner, the shelter now has more than 50 cats in addition to the dogs it takes in.

In an unrelated matter, Dowler commented on a recent humane case involving a dog known as “Howie.” The dog — which had very little fur and was in poor health — was taken in from a Paulding County resident who said he couldn’t afford to take care of it.

Although from outside the county, Fedderke indicated that she wasn’t going to turn away the dog because its condition was so poor.

She noted the difficulty in prosecuting such cases in Paulding County, which does not have a humane agent. One reason is that it is expensive to hold on to — and care for — the animals (while the case is pending), according to Fedderke.

Dowler believes Paulding County could do more in such matters, saying that unchecked animal abuse abuse leads to other forms of family abuse as well.

Earlier, Weaner said “Howie” has “made a miraculous improvement.”

In other business Wednesday, the board:

• learned from Dowler that Shelter Planners of America — which is undertaking a facilities study for the board — may present a report within four to six weeks. Dowler suggested sharing this information with the county commissioners, who own the county animal shelter which the humane society operates. He said he would like the facilities report to be reviewed by the board in public session.

• approved the May financial report, showing a net loss of $5,628.10. The year-to-date net loss is $3,211.53. However, treasurer Lisa Weisenauer said net income of $10,000 should be showing by the end of June as donations will be coming in. “Our bank balances are healthy,” she said.

• received the May shelter report. Some 31 dogs were taken in along with 23 cats, while 32 dogs and 14 cats were adopted. Another six dogs were reclaimed. Year-to-date totals show 192 dogs taken in and 123 adopted and 48 reclaimed. The year-to-date cat total is 76 taken in and 39 adopted.

• learned from board member Nancy Porter that Defiance Rotary will donate $1,000 toward the annual golf outing at Eagle Rock on July 20 and the Howloween Masquerade Ball on Oct. 12.

• received Fedderke’s humane report for May, showing 23 different investigations or responses concerning animals, the vast majority of them involving dogs.

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