By Denise Dick
When Animal Charity gets a call about a large number of animals that need rescuing, the organization has to rely on other animal-welfare agencies for help.
That’s why Animal Char- ity, the only entity in Mahoning County that handles cruelty cases, wants to establish a network of foster homes.
Earlier this week, Animal Charity responded to a home in Berlin Center where a resident kept 17 adult dogs, four puppies, six newborn dogs and 15 cats living in poor conditions in a barn and trailer.
“We already had 28 dogs, so to take 22 more we would have to basically empty out our garage,” said Talia Musolino, Animal Charity manager.
Instead, she called upon other animal groups — Angels for Animals in Beaver Township, Close to Home in McDonald, New Lease on Life in Northeast Ohio and the Mahoning County Dog Warden — to help.
Those organizations took all but two adult dogs that went to Animal Charity. Musolino is grateful to those other groups, but Gary Pilcher, Animal Charity board chairman, said the underlying problem is a lack of space.
“We really need money or someone to volunteer space, or a network of people willing to be foster homes,” Pilcher said. “We need someone to take care of them either permanently or until a permanent home can be found.”
Some animal-welfare agencies across the country have a network of foster homes they call upon when there’s an influx of animals.
That network, ideally, would include people willing to foster dogs, cats or horses, he said.
The agency doesn’t have facilities to transport and house horses.
“Ideally the way it would work, we would get a call and we’ d have all these people in our address book, and we’d send out an SOS that we need foster homes for horses, dogs or cats for period of time. Hopefully, our phone would ring off the hook with people saying, ‘How can I help?’”
Tony and Mary Lariccia earlier this year announced they would donate $50,000 per year to Animal Charity to help it gain financial footing. The donation came after the agency said it no longer could afford to do cruelty investigations.
Pilcher said that funding infusion has helped the organization, but it would like to hire a second humane agent.
“People don’t realize that’s only a portion of a much-larger budget to be able to provide the services we need to provide,” he said.
Animal Charity also needs volunteers to walk dogs and clean cages both during the day and on weekends, the chairman said.
To volunteer, foster or provide help to the agency, call Animal Charity at 330-788-1064.