Shelter offers animals loving care

Jessica Sprowl

Behind a chain link fence at the Portage County Animal Protection League in Ravenna there are the young faces of puppies and 10-year-old Sydne Knauf. She has volunteered for the past two months and plays with the puppies so they are familiar with people.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Barking radiating off the walls, vibrant murals of cats and dogs and around almost every corner a dog appears to greet and sniff you.

The Portage County Animal Protection League is a private, “no-kill,” non-profit organization located in Ravenna and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Being a “no-kill shelter”, the APL will never euthanize a healthy, adoptable animal just to make room, shelter Manager Bev Bickley said.

The shelter helps find homes for sick, injured, abused and abandoned animals that have no other alternative. With the kitten season almost here, the APL is already filled with dogs and cats, said Kathy Cordaro, an animal caregiver at the shelter.

The APL does have foster families for animals when the APL does not have enough room, but for the most part, they are usually filled-up as well, Bickley said.

“Far above anything when taking in an animal is to have the animal spayed/neutered and to be fully committed to that animal,” Bickley said.

The APL also takes part in the nationwide Friends of Animals and sells certificates for pet owners to get their pet(s) spayed/neutered at a veterinary clinic for a cheaper price, Cordaro said.

Currently the APL has about 70 dogs and 200 cats available for adoption.

Finding the right home

To adopt a cat or dog from the APL, the adopter must spend time interacting with the animal.

For a dog adoption, if there are children or other dogs at the home, the APL asks for them to be brought in to see how the dog interacts with everyone, Cordaro said.

There is then a questionnaire to fill out, and from there the APL will decide what is right for the animal, which takes about 20 minutes, Cordaro said.

“Everything is geared towards what is best for the animal,” Cordaro said. “That is our main concern.”

On average, the APL usually takes in about 300 cats and about 200 dogs annually to put up for adoption, Bickley said.

Dogs and cats are not the only animals brought to the APL.

“We have had a wide-range of animals brought to us from ferrets, rabbits, chicks, geese, goats, roosters and even a turtle hit by a car once,” Cordaro said. “But we couldn’t save the turtle.”

“We also work with Happy Trails, a farm sanctuary in Ravenna when we get those kinds of animals, or our humane officer who has a farm will take the animals in when needed,” Bickley said.

Preventing negligence

Marie Bennett, the Portage County humane officer, usually receives between 25 to 35 calls a month dealing with animal cruelty or neglect.

“Some are legit, but some are just people calling because they don’t like their neighbors and make complaints about the neighbor’s pet or pets,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s worst experience yet dealing with animal cruelty was last year:

“Last year I received a tip about dogs in poor living conditions, and when checking around a neighbor slipped and mentioned something about dogs in a barn. When I first looked, I found 10 dogs in horrible conditions and the skeleton of a pony,” Bennett said.

Recently the APL has been stricter with allowing college students to adopt their animals because of bad experiences in the past, Bickley said.

One important thing to the APL is for students who have pet(s) to think about what they are going to do with their pet(s) once they graduate and move on, Bickley said.

Contact social services reporter Jessica Sprowl at [email protected].