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Findings of a facilities study were discussed by the Fort Defiance Humane Society’s governing board during its monthly meeting Wednesday evening at ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital.

The study was conducted by Shelter Planners of America, Arlington, Texas, and was made possible by a $6,500 donation from Gary Chaney.

Humane society officials are attempting to determine whether they could afford to build a new, larger facility, or can expand their present location at the county-owned Justin F. Coressel Animal Shelter on Ohio 15 northwest of Defiance.

According to the study, a new facility — measuring some 9,830-square feet (7,046-square feet of enclosed space and 2,784-square feet of exterior space) — would cost between $3.3-$3.9 million, but this does not include a potential land purchase.

However, board member Gary Dowler — chairman of the board’s facility/planning committee — said a larger shelter built in Angola, Ind., cost about $2 million with in-kind help and local contractors. As such there may be “a lot of things that maybe inflate the cost.”

The present shelter has approximately 5,000-square feet with about a 2,700-square foot “dog play area” along with a barn.

Dowler noted that the shelter — built in 1996 — was designed for dogs. He said the present setup is “not workable. It’s not healthy. We have to make some conscious decisions about whether we’re going to continue that practice — just if nothing else, the space issues and the health problems that have materialized by having that many animals in that close proximity.”

Some board members and Lisa Weaner — the animal shelter’s executive director — met with county commissioners on Sept. 16 to discuss the study.

One of the options considered during that meeting was renovation of a barn next to the shelter to provide room for cats. This would require commissioners’ permission, but Dowler said he was not optimistic about commissioners sharing the cost.

Commissioners did not make a decision on allowing an expansion there, but said they would consider a proposal, if one is presented by the humane society.

As for asking donors to contribute more to improve a building the humane society doesn’t own, Dowler said they already have put “probably close to $100,000 in a facility that we don’t own.”

And adding onto the present shelter building is not considered a viable option by humane society officials.

A shorter-term fix discussed Wednesday is the use of a new portable storage shed to free up space in a garage attached to the shelter. Materials now stored in the garage would be moved to the shed, while the garage would be used for cats, thereby keeping them separate from areas where dogs are housed.

“The goal would be to move all the cats out there,” said Weaner.

In another matter, the board learned that the humane society has spent approximately $182,000 this year through August, and received about $187,000.

“That’s pretty tight income and out-go,” said Dowler, who delivered a report on behalf of treasurer Lisa Wiesenauer. She was not in attendance Wednesday.

“In her opinion, to be comfortable, we need income of something in the area of $25,000 per month to sustain our budget,” added Dowler. “She goes on to say she would personally like to see that closer to $30,000.”

The current balance in all three of the humane society’s bank accounts is approximately $127,000, according to Dowler.

The main humane society expense is labor costs, with these totaling $90,000 through the first eight months of 2019, according to Dowler, along with $30,000 in payroll taxes.

The board approved the financial reports for August.

In other business:

• received the monthly animal shelter report, noting that 25 dogs were adopted in August, along with seven cats. Thirty-four cats were taken in during August, along with 50 dogs. Twenty-two dogs were reclaimed, according to the report. The shelter housed 37 dogs as of Monday, along with 34 cats.

• reviewed the monthly report from county humane agent Stacie Fedderke. “As you can see, another very busy month,” said Weaner. “She’s been very, very busy again in the month of August, and I can’t say it’s slowed down in September so far.”

• discussed a new animal rescue in the Ayersville area. Board member Jeff Batt asked if the rescue was “anything to worry about.” Weaner said the rescue is small and operated by a couple, and believes it has 501©(3) status. “It’s very new,” she commented. “It just started up over the summer.”

• accepted the resignation of board member Brian Callan.

• approved an updated internal controls document.

• scheduled the next meeting for 6 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Tiffin Room at ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital.

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