Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Lakeland Animal Shelter plans for expansion

by Chris Schultz

June 16, 2011

Delavan Township— Lakeland Animal Shelter took another step toward expansion.

Last month, the Walworth County Board reviewed and approved the report of the County Zoning Agency for rezoning about 3.14 acres of land currently owned by the Hold Your Horses boarding ranch to make way for expansion of the Lakeland Animal Shelter.

The rezone covers only part of the 10 acres the shelter is planning to buy. Purchase of 10 acres from Hold Your Horses is pending, said Kristen Perry, director of Lakeland Animal Shelter.

The next step is to close on the deal and then raise capital funds to pay for and maintain the expansion, she said.

The shelter's fundraising goal is $6 million, Perry said.

Perry said Lakeland is being careful about budgeting for the new building. The shelter has to not only finance new construction, but also to cover the increased costs of operating the larger facility.

The shelter board of directors has been aware of the need for a new building for several years, said Perry. As the county's human population grows, so does its population of misplaced and unwanted pets.The new shelter will increase by nearly 10-fold, from the existing 2,800 square feet to between 23,000 and 25,000 square feet.

The current facility will be repurposed for large animals, Perry said.

Lakeland's main building is more than 30 years old and has been adapted over the years, Perry said. Shelter staff took human space and redesigned it for the animals.

In fact, nearly all the interior space at the shelter is now devoted to the animals the shelter cares for.

If anything, the expansion will also provide more room for its human staff of 21 full-and- part time employees, and 50 to 60 core volunteers.

At any one time, the shelter holds 40 to 60 dogs and 200 to 300 cats, Perry said. That comes out to about 2,500 animals a year. About 75 percent are strays, while another 25 percent are owner-surrendered. Right now, it costs about $700,000 a year to operate the shelter.

"We're grateful to have a donor base that has remained loyal all these years," Perry said.

In 1978, the Walworth County Humane Society was created as a nonprofit, tax exempt organization. In 1985 the name was changed to Lakeland Animal Welfare Society (LAWS).

Lakeland Animal Shelter is owned and operated by Lakeland Animal Welfare Society.

The facility is three miles south of Elkhorn on Highway 67, and it is the only animal shelter in Walworth County.

Its doors are open to the public six days a week except on legal holidays. The shelter's policies are set by a board of directors.

The Lakeland Animal Shelter's goal is to prevent cruel treatment to animals. The shelter educates the public on the needs of pets, helps enforce laws pertaining to animal welfare and humanely euthanizes animals for which a proper home cannot be found.

About 75 percent of the shelter's operating budget comes from donations from individuals and businesses. About 25 percent of the shelter's budget comes from a contract with Walworth County to respond to stray animal calls and to pick up and house the county's stray animals.