GREENVILLE — As of October 31, Duane Sanning retired as the Darke County Chief Animal Control Officer.
However, his duties with The Darke County Friends of the Shelter (Friends) continue. He was a photographer, accommodating a very long line of pets and their owners, during a fundraiser for the Darke County Animal Shelter, November 18, in Greenville. The Friends sponsored a photo opportunity with Santa Claus ( Friends member Kurt Wagner) at Walmart. Greyhounds, Shih Tzus and other furry family loved ones made it in for a photo.
Duane’s wife and Friends President Kelly said the group started in 2003, as Duane saw a need. He said as a county entity, the shelter was unable to apply for certain grants, but as a 501(c)(3), the Friends could.
“As a county employee, I was knowledgeable about what the county was responsible for,” he said. “For example, the dog park was not a county requirement, but it was something the community could use. I could not use kennel funding for the dog park – it had to come from somewhere else. Does the county have to provide leashes for people that adopt dogs? No. Is it a good idea? Yes. There are many other similar scenarios.”
In addition to Kelly and Duane, other Friends members that helped with the event, include: Jenny Worthington, Sue House, Gail Shafer, Deb Prescott, Kurt Wagner, Addie Prescott and Friends Secretary/Treasurer Bob Harshbarger and his wife Jeanie. Jeanie and Bob, of Greenville, have been members for about 13 years.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Bob said. “We do it because we like the animals. We have cats at home and when we travel on vacation, we go to animal sanctuaries out of state to volunteer.”
In the past 13 years, the Friends have raised more than $95,000 in donations from businesses, grants and individuals, including a little girl who donates her annual lemonade stand proceeds, according to Bob. Some of the money has gone towards cat hammocks; cat cages; the Scentral Park Dog Park, including four permanent umbrellas, dog waste bags, waste stations, a fence, and constant park upkeep; and the construction of an “Adoption Room” at the shelter. The Friends first project was to furnish leashes for any newly adopted dog from the shelter, he said.
“The cost was about $240 – all the money they had,” he said. “We continue to furnish the leashes. Our goal is to provide comforts, goods, services and amenities to the shelter that is not in the county budget.”
Bob retired about 12 years ago, after working 41-years in a corporate environment at what he described as “the best job anybody could ever have.”
“It was time for me to go, and I needed a purpose,” he said. “This is my new purpose and it is more gratifying.”
Kelly said the Friends can always use more volunteers. She said a small group has done it all.
“Everyone in our group has a different skill,” Bob said. “If someone doesn’t know how to do something, they know who to call. That is what has made this whole thing work, and why we have done it without tax money; people are constantly coming into help. People should join if they are animal people and they want to see things get better in the shelter. We are always looking for volunteers.”
For more information, or to purchase a calendar, call 937-547-1645, or visit http://www.darkecountyanimalshelter.com