Annual Report 2015 - Page 12

12

Passion: Philanthropy in Action

“We all have passions,” said Pam Bonham, President for the Board of the Blackford County Animal Shelter for the past ten years. Pam’s personal passion is in helping the county’s stray animals find a permanent loving home, just what happened to Charlotte. “I got a call Friday afternoon, I remember it vividly.”

It was three years ago that Pam received the call asking the Animal Shelter to pick up a dog abandoned in Montpelier. The dog’s tail was raw and hairless, but Pam found a note in her collar asking that whoever found “Shiloh” take care of her and give her a better life.

Pam remembers, “Her little face just looked broken.”

Shortly after Shiloh had been rescued, the Animal Shelter had an adoption event at PetSmart in Carmel. A young girl came in looking for a dog with special needs. The girl liked a little dog named Henry who had a gimp leg, but Pam knew that she needed to meet Shiloh.

That girl traveled to Blackford County to visit the Shelter, fell in love with Shiloh, and took her home even though the cause of Shiloh’s hair loss was still not identified.

Fast forward to February and the Animal Shelter was back in Carmel for another adoption event. The young girl who had adopted Shiloh, now Charlotte, brought her to visit the Shelter volunteers.

“Charlotte came walking in, you just couldn’t even believe the transformation,” said Pam. Beautiful, long white hair, now a gorgeous and confident dog, strutting around. Charlotte, a collie-mix breed, only needed flea prevention treatment for an allergy. Seeing this complete transformation has stuck with Pam, “It was just like, this is what it’s all about.”

The Animal Shelter sees many dogs who have been abandoned just as Charlotte was, and Pam believes the issue is a deep-rooted one. “It’s no fault of any of these animals that they’re here at the shelter—it is a people problem.” The solution lies in educating the members of this community about their responsibilities in adopting an animal.

Over the past decade, the population at the Animal Shelter has outgrown the available space. When a matching donation program from the Lilly Endowment Inc. through the Blackford County Community Foundation became available last year, the Shelter board of directors was interested. Pam credits Julie Forcum with stepping in and heading up the fundraising effort. "We had such a great response from the community wanting to help,: Pam said.

The Lilly Endowment Inc. GIFT IV initiative gave the Shelter an additional fifty cents for every dollar raised, enough to provide the funds for the new facilities. The planning process for building has begun and Pam expects the impact to be great. The Shelter will see a reduction in overall expenses, especially in heating and cooling the building. It will be a healthier environment for the animals with improved air circulation. There will be free roam rooms for the cats to keep them separate from the dogs and avoid unnecessary stress that leads to illness.

The Shelter depends on its volunteers and is always looking for more. That doesn’t necessarily mean going into the Shelter to walk dogs or clean cages. Volunteers are also needed to talk to others about the Shelter’s activities and goals. Such support for the Shelter is a good place to begin volunteering.