Wishbone Pet Rescue to Expand Allegan County Animal Shelter


ALLEGAN — The Allegan County Animal Shelter is considering a big expansion, hoping to add much-needed space for surgery, assessments and cats.

“We hope to expand by installing a modular unit, like a prefab building,” said Jim Sellman, president of Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance, the nonprofit that runs the shelter.

“The building will house a new surgical center and house the cats – so they won’t be in the same building as the dogs, which tend to bark and stress them out. The surgical center will be adequately sized and have facilities for all the types of surgeries in our skill set, rather than just spaying and neutering.”

The site of the planned expansion of the Allegan County Animal Sanctuary.  The current building is to be demolished and a modular unit will be installed to provide more space for surgery, assessments and felines.

This includes the pre-operative and post-operative space. Wishbone took over management of the shelter in 2011, following a partnership that brought together the county and the nonprofit.

“Wishbone started strictly as a regular rescue in the fall of 2008,” said general manager Susan Smith. “One of our board members used to pull dogs from the shelter for his personal rescue, and we continued that effort by taking a dog from time to time.

“We were contacted to help with a dog abuse case. They couldn’t accommodate the dog’s medical needs. From there, our relationship became more involved. We worked with them to try to resolve the case, and Eventually, we asked if we could start volunteering at the shelter.”

Two years later, the county approached Wishbone with a management contract, which has been renewed every three years since. But the install was not designed for Wishbone’s no-removal policy, and those limitations have been a problem.

Current Allegan County Animal Shelter Surgery Room.  The shelter's management organization, Wishbone, hopes to expand its surgical operations with a modular unit.

“Susan sheltered herself from a 90 percent euthanasia rate to a 95 percent adoption rate,” Sellman said. “But they never intended to do surgery in the building. We used an exam room.”

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Wishbone will launch a fundraising campaign in the coming weeks to raise funds for the new building. Allegan County, meanwhile, will be responsible for demolishing the existing space.

“We are in the early stages of working out the legality of having a Wishbone-owned building on county-owned property,” Smith said. “We are looking for builders.”

Until the official campaign is announced, donations can be made at wishbonepetrescue.org. Donors can leave a note requesting that their donation be used for the new installation.

— Contact journalist Cassandra Lybrink at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram @BizHolland.

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