LAHARPE — Members of the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility took a huge step toward getting the shelter opened with the announcement this week that Andi DePriest has been hired as the shelter’s director.
DePriest, 27, Lone Elm, will begin Monday for at least a week of training at the Lawrence Humane Society to learn the ins and outs of runnning the ACARF shelter.
“I’m ecstatic,” DePriest said. “I know I have some huge shoes to fill, but I have some great people behind me working to make this a success.”
DePriest said an opening date for the shelter has yet to be announced, because that is contingent upon her training and the acquisition of more supplies.
“There are a lot of things people don’t think about when you’re talking about opening — things like paper towel dispensers,” she said. “We want to open, but we want to be ready first. All we know is that we will open soon.”
She is eager to visit the shelter in Lawrence, one of the largest in the state.
“I think they want us to successful as much as we want to be,” DePriest said.
ACARF also will continue to collect donations, such as pet supplies and carriers.
And cash always will be heartily accepted, DePriest said. “We still are looking to get more dog and cat pens, and those are expensive.”
For more information on donations, contact ACARF via its Web site, www.acarf.com.
The shelter will rely heavily on volunteers. DePriest will be the only paid worker at the shelter, which will be manned seven days a week to care for the animals.
She plans to reach out to the senior citizens in the area to help
DePriest plans to keep the shelter open six days a week. The seventh day will be dedicated to deep cleaning.
THE SHELTER will board healthy dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes with the hopes of finding the animals new homes.
“We’ll take in strays, or just pets that people can no longer care for,” DePriest said.
The shelter will fill up rapidly, DePriest predicted.
Hours of operation have not been set, “and that may shift as we go along,” she said. “It’s important to note that we’ll work with anybody who wants to adopt an animal, even if they want to adopt on a day we would normally be closed.”
She also noted that ACARF will be a “low-kill” facility and not a “no-kill” shelter.
Sick or maimed animals will undoubtedly be euthanized when necessary, as will dogs and cats that are vicious toward other animals or people.
“There’s no way we could ethically operate as a ‘no-kill’ shelter,” DePriest said. “Would you want give an animal away that you know would attack somebody?”
DEPRIEST grew up on a farm northwest of Iola and began working in the nursing field as a teenager. She worked as a nurse for 10 years before joining USD 257 as a paraprofessional last fall at McKinley Elementary School. She leaves that post Friday at the end of the school year.
“I’ve been around animals all my life,” she said.
DePriest became familiar with ACARF after acquiring her first ever “high maintenance” pet, a miniature schnauzer that put her in touch with Jeanne Cloud of Creative Clips in January 2009. Cloud is an ACARF board member and one of its founders.
She started attending the monthly ACARF meetings earlier this year to learn more about the organization before applying for the director’s position when it was announced.
“I guess I’ve come full circle, first caring for people, now for animals,” she said with a laugh.
DePriest also plans to contact local communities with the hopes of developing contracts that stipulate animals taken in by those cities’ animal control offices are then taken to ACARF.