Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 17, 2012

No-kill shelter rezoning tabled

Land ownership issue prevents vote on Pals for Paws project.


— Questions over the availability of land led to the tabling of a rezoning petition by Pals for Paws, a local organization that combats animal overpopulation.

The nonprofit approached the Howard County Plan Commission Tuesday to rezone 2 acres at 6972 E. 400 South to eventually open a clinic and shelter.

Members of the commission were favorable to the development, but resident Becky Langley said she had a deed indicating a parcel of the property owned by a church would return to a private owner once that property was no longer church-owned.

Alan Wilson, attorney for the county, said it was important to resolve the issue before moving forward with rezoning. He requested that Pals for Paws find the most recent deed and ensure that the entire property is available for sale.

Provided the property is purchasable by Pals for Paws, the commission will resume discussion at its next meeting on Nov. 20, and it will decide whether to recommend the zoning change from institutional to agricultural commercial to the county commissioners.

Mary Wilborn, president and founder of the nonprofit, said the group has been writing grants for eight months to secure funds to purchase the building from a church. They intend to turn the building, which was a church community center, into a low-cost spay-neuter clinic with space in back for rescued pets.

Wilborn says Pals for Paws opposes “kill shelters,” or shelters that kill what she calls “healthy, adoptable” pets.

She said, however, they want to work together with the Kokomo Humane Society to increase spaying and neutering to prevent overpopulation in the county. The humane society serves as animal control for the city and county.

“We in no way want to compete with the shelter,” Wilborn said. “Working together to save the animals is the right thing. We get no tax money. We’re not enemies of the shelter, we’re not trying to be ugly to them or take away any of their jobs.

“We did a little survey and called every city in the state,” she said. “We are the highest for the cost of spay and neuter. We would like to make it more affordable.”

Jean McGroarty, executive director at the humane society, said she hopes the Pals for Paws shelter will help.

“This will add one more alternative to the people in this community, and I think that it’s something that is important,” she said.

McGroarty said her organization is in the fundraising process for its own shelter, which she hopes will be ready for construction in about a year. She said the property is already purchased and designs are in progress.

“We’re not out to compete or do better than Pals for Paws,” she said. “We need to focus on the problems that we have here.”

Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at megan.graham@kokomotribune.com.