By Sean Barron
Miss Rhubarb barked with much excitement and glee and, in so doing, seemed to capture the mood of the people around her.
“She’s really got a great disposition,” Scott McCuskey, vice president of Angels for Animals Inc., where the 4-year-old hound- beagle mix has spent the last few months after having been brought from a shelter in Carroll County, Ohio.
The sweet-natured dog that also had a cancerous mass removed joined the estimated 120 people for Sunday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony at Angels for Animals, 4750 W. South Range Road, to usher in the Angel Wing project. The huge addition promises to greatly expand the 28-year-old shelter’s services and scope.
About $5.8 million of the $10 million cost has been raised to build the two-story, 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, which could take about two years to finish, depending on donations, noted Diane Less, Angels’ founder.
“We have a long ways to go, but people have been very generous,” Less said during a gathering that preceded the outdoor ceremony. “We have to keep working on it.”
Since its inception in 1990, Angels for Animals has sought to educate the public about the problem of pet overpopulation, stress the importance of regular veterinary care for pets that includes spaying and neutering, cultivate a greater awareness of and responsibility toward companion animals’ needs and provide for the well-being of those that have been abandoned or face other challenges, the shelter’s mission statement says.
To those ends, Angel Wing will have a full-service veterinarian facility that is to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide affordable care for pets. Also featured will be an increased spay-and-neuter capacity, a larger holding area, increased care and intake for abandoned animals and dental, X-ray and chiropractic services.
Construction will be in three phases: the 24/7 clinic and structure itself, the expanded surgery rooms in which to perform spaying-and-neutering services and the holding areas, Less explained.
Angels spays and neuters between 10,000 and 11,000 animals each year, and a primary goal is to increase that number to about 25,000 annually, something the Angel Wing will make possible, Less noted. She added that the shelter’s ultimate objective is to get all dogs and cats into the homes of loving and responsible companions.
Another wish is to see more shelters refuse to allow animals that have not been spayed or neutered to be adopted until they receive the surgery, Less continued.
“We’re going to do so much more to help animals when it’s built,” said Cassidy Piskorick, the facility’s kennel manager.
Angel for Animals’ general wellness wing offers routine checkups, blood work, yearly visits and other such services, she explained. The new wing, however, will allow for more sophisticated and advanced surgical procedures that aren’t possible now, because the shelter lacks the necessary equipment, Piskorick continued.
Angels is housing about 130 cats at the facility, with another 300 in foster care. Also, the shelter has room for up to 20 dogs; in addition, 20 to 30 more are being fostered, she added.
Sunday’s event also gave attendees an opportunity to light candles in remembrance of pets they lost, and to take part in a basket raffle.
Angels for Animals’ viewing and adoption hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; noon to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
People can buy a square foot for the Angel Wing for $200, and those who contribute $200 or more will have their names displayed in the new building. To make a donation, contact Less at 330-502-5352.