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Animal groups in Erie County, Ottawa County join forces

Tom Jackson • Feb 8, 2013 at 5:10 AM

But two animal groups with somewhat different missions have reached across Edison Bridge, discovering that sharing space, dog collars and other resources can help both.

Erie County Humane Society, in Sandusky, and Island Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary, near Port Clinton, have forged a cooperative relationship, sending animals and supplies back and forth.

"I really want to show we are working together for the benefit of the animals," said Nancy Benevento-Brown, founder and CEO of Island Safe Harbor, located on State Road across from Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport.

The Humane Society's goal is to provide a temporary home for dogs and cats until a permanent home is found. It had 28 animal adoptions last month and adopts out about 350 a year, said Amy Wieber, the shelter manager.

Island Safe Harbor also does adoptions. It found homes for about 90 animals last year, but adopted out 71 of them in the last few weeks of 2012, after a much-publicized series of rescues of dogs from "puppy mills" in Holmes County, Benevento-Brown said. 

After reading about the rescues, "people wanted to be a part of the solution," Benevento-Brown said. 

A major role for Island Safe Harbor is to provide a permanent home for special-needs animals, dogs and cats, including those with physical problems, as they'reunlikely to find a permanent home. When the shelters have space, the two groups have agreed to accept animals from each other.

After Island Safe Harbor rescued dozens of Holmes County dogs, for instance, the Humane Society took four dogs. Two have been adopted out and two others, after they're neutered, have homes waiting, said Barbara Hargreaves, director of the Humane Society.

The shelters also share supplies.

"Nancy sent out a report she really needs collars," Hargreaves said. "We have a lot of collars."

Benevento-Brown said she took some heat from supporters who believe that Erie County's Humane Society euthanizes animals when it runs out of space. That's a bad rap, Benevento-Brown said — the Humane Society only euthanizes animals when it's medically necessary.

Only one dog was euthanized in the last year, Hargreaves said.

The December report shows three cats where euthanized that month: two for medical reasons and one because it bit a shelter worker.

Hargreaves said the Humane Society also has a cooperative relationship with the Erie County Dog Pound.

The two facilities recently swapped two dogs, with the dog pound sending over a beagle, Sara Lee, and the Humane Society giving the pound a black lab.

The dog pound does a good job of adopting out large dogs, Wieber said.

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