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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Group tries to raise funds



Published: Sat, September 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Now that it has landed its tax-exempt status, the group says it may be able to gather more donations.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Those trying to save a hybrid wolf sanctuary have until about mid-October to raise the balance of a $161,100 purchase price.

Thanks to last-minute donations, members of the Youngstown-based Richard E. Flauto Wildlife Foundation were able to come up with enough to make a 10 percent down payment on the 80-acre sanctuary during a sheriff's sale Sept. 4.

Richard Flauto of Boardman founded the sanctuary in 1997 when he bought the property, located amid remote Columbiana County hills.

But Flauto died in 1999 of a heart ailment before he could pay off the debt, resulting in the land being in the sheriff's sale.

The nonprofit foundation bearing his name outbid other interested parties at the sale, resulting in the $161,100 purchase price.

Now that the $16,110 down payment has been made, the group is confronted with raising nearly $145,000.

"We have no choice but to run at this head-on," Christine Roddy of Boardman, foundation secretary, said.

If it fails: If the foundation fails to get the balance, the property could go back on the auction block.

The group is banking on widespread publicity about the sanctuary's plight to raise the money.

The group is still soliciting funds through its Web site, www.wolfcountry.net.

Event planned: The group is planning a big fund-raising event for early October, Roddy said. Details will be released later.

Another development that has sanctuary supporters hopeful is the fact that the organization has received its tax-exempt status from the federal government.

That means donations made to the group will be tax deductible, Roddy said. The status could motivate more giving.

If the group can't raise the balance, it's hoping to at least raise enough to make a down payment on a loan to buy the property, Roddy said.

Hanging in the balance is the fate of nearly 25 hybrid wolves, which are fenced in on about 14 acres of the sanctuary.

The animals have been bred from gray wolves and various dog breeds.

Their wild nature makes them unsuitable as pets. They were brought to the sanctuary from petting zoos, a fur farm and from private owners who decided they didn't want them.

XThe group's mailing address is: Richard E. Flauto Wildlife Foundation, P.O. Box 9542, Youngstown 44513. Roddy can be reached at (330) 629-8281.




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