In the spring of 1955, several of the founders, including Dorothy Chapman, LeeNora Flechtner, Paul Flechtner, Helen Ryan, Barbara Sutliff, and Donald Echnat oversaw the process of creating the first, nonprofit, humane organization in the county when they filed the articles of incorporation with the state attorney general. The APL’s first formal home was a barn behind the county home on Infirmary Road very close to where the new shelter is today.
During the first four years of its existence the APL handled over 12,000 animals. In 1958 alone, it cared for 1,994 dogs and 936 cats. It also cared for numerous rabbits, skunks, goats, chickens, ducks, pigeons and raccoons. (Today the APL only handles domestic animals. State law forbids the keeping of wild animals such as raccoons and skunks as pets.) It found homes for as many animals as possible; investigated cruelty cases and began making plans for a new shelter located on Lake Street in Ravenna. Its home for the next 40 plus years.
In his November 2, 1959 letter to members, President Paul Flechtner said, “ With the construction of the new shelter at the corner of E. Lake St and New Milford Rd in Ravenna, a new era of Animal Welfare and Control will come to Portage County.”
But as the population of the county grew, so did the need for a newer and larger shelter. Kay Anderson served as the shelter manager and humane officer for over 20 years.
In 1999, the APL started a capital campaign to raise money for a new building. Eileen Hogan and the late Dr. Charles Beutel served as co-chairs of the campaign and along with many volunteers, staff and board members, helped raise the funds for the new $750,000 building that the APL moved into in December of 2002.
Another new era of animal welfare and control was begun. An era that includes proactive efforts to spay/neuter as many animals as possible in order to reduce pet over population; aggressive prosecution of animal cruelty cases; the adoption of the “no kill” philosophy of not putting an adoptable pet to death in order to make room in the shelter for another animal; and the development of community educational outreach programs which help strengthen the ever important bond between humans and animals.
Moving into the new shelter has been great for the animals and increased our shelter capacity. Portage APL finds safe homes for 1,000 homeless animals every year. But operating a larger shelter has put a financial strain on the organization. There has been a dramatic increase in utilities, foods, medical bills, and spay/neuter programs, and the list goes on and on. Estimates put the average annual cost per animal at $700 which means we need to raise $700,000 per year to keep our shelter open at full capacity. Current adoption fees account for only 17% of our annual income. The other 83% must be raised through donations.
The homeless animals that come through our doors have few other options. We need the Portage county community to support our efforts in providing a safe haven for these abused, abandoned and homeless animals. We receive no government funding. We are a private, nonprofit organization.