About PCCHHS – A Not-For-Profit, No-Kill Shelter in Wamego, KS
In the Beginning
In April, 2005, Julie Appino stopped at the Wamego City Pound and discovered there were very few kennels located outside in the blistering June heat. Some of the dogs had tipped over their water buckets and had nothing to drink.
She was told that the City of Wamego policy was to hold each dog for ten days and if no owners were forthcoming, the dog would be euthanized. The dogs did not get much exposure to the public since the dog pound was located between the waste water treatment plant and the leaf burn piles by the Kansas river. Therefore, very few of the dogs were adopted.
After realizing this, Appino began spending her days pulling dogs from the pound and placing them in rescues and other shelters. There she met Susan Clasen who had stopped to see a chocolate lab. They spoke that day about their mutual desire to form an organization to help change the horrible conditions at that dog shelter. A meeting was held at Appino's house and people from the community were invited to attend. That night the Pottawatomie County Caring Hearts Humane Society was born.
They filed the articles of incorporation with the Kansas Secretary of State in September, 2005. In July, 2006, PCCHHS became established as a not for profit 501c3 charity with the federal government.
The PCCHHS executive board immediately began engaging the city management in a conversation that would last for years and continues to this day. The organization needed to manage the shelter, as limited access was available to the dogs while they were under the care of the city work crews. The dogs were fed and watered once daily; their tiny 4X8 kennels were hosed down, most often with the dogs in the kennels. If a dog spilled its water, it did not get more water for 24 hours. PCCHHS had asked for the numbers of dogs euthanized and were advised that 80-85% of the dogs entering the shelter were euthanized, prior to PCCHHS involvement.
In 2005, Julie Appino became licensed with the State of Kansas Department of Animal Health Services, as a Group Foster Home. Now PCCHHS could pull dogs and place them in foster homes prior to their getting placed in adoptive homes. PCCHHS was finally successful in negotiating a contract to manage the shelter with the City of Wamego for a small stipend; the contract was signed in October 2005, although they had been managing the shelter on a trial basis for several months prior to this time.
Since PCCHHS began management of the dog shelter, there have been many wonderful changes to the facility! Large 10'x10' and 10'x20' kennels have been erected, with concrete or wooden floors, which provide a cleaner/dryer environment in the dog’s living space. Tarps have been placed on all the kennels for protection from the sun, wind, and wet weather, and the dogs are provided with fans during the very hot summer months.
In 2009, PCCHHS installed a 24'x35' structure on a 30'x40' concrete slab inside the shelter compound – the first cover from the elements for the dogs! The frame of the building is galvanized steel which is covered by a 224 mil polyethylene sheet. This building is completely enclosed in the winter time; the sides roll up in the heat of summer for air circulation.
A Labor of Love
In the years since its inception, PCCHHS has taken in and placed literally hundreds of dogs into adoptive homes. We consider ourselves a no-kill or guaranteed adoption shelter. We do not euthanize for space. Our dogs are walked, fed, and watered twice a day, every day. PCCHHS has many volunteers that come out to walk dogs twice daily. This interaction with various people creates an environment of socialization for dogs that come in fearful and timid; volunteers and part-time kennel staff work with the dogs on behavioral issues that may arise. PCCHHS has many state licensed foster homes for our dogs; the fosters provide invaluable information about the dogs as well as providing a stable, healthy setting to work on issues such as house training, separation anxiety, etc.
PCCHHS has wonderful volunteers who dedicate hours and hours of time to our homeless pets. Volunteers staff our fund raising events, provide transportation and handling of dogs at adoption events in the community, making adoption posters, screening families wanting to adopt dogs, listing adoptable dogs in the local newspapers, creating newsletter and updating websites. This list goes on and on. We could never do what we do for these wonderful dogs without the support of the community.
We have great support from the local community. In 2007, a local boy scout completed his Eagle Scout award by constructing and donating two very nice covered benches for the shelter compound area. These provide a great place for volunteers to sit, brush, and play with the dogs. In 2009, a girl scout, working on a merit badge, raised funds for and built a 40’x80’ dog play yard adjacent to the dog shelter compound. These kinds of contributions have made a wonderful improvement to an otherwise inhospitable area.
Finger in the Dike
PCCHHS was thrilled to have developed a relationship with the D J & T Foundation in order to be able to offer spay and neuter assistance to dog owners in the community through grants that we have received. PCCHHS has administered four grants from this foundation, totaling $45,000, which has altered 475 dogs from the surrounding area preventing the birth of many unwanted litters.
Our Mission is to ensure that all dogs impounded receive proper medical care and are treated in a humane manner. We promote the adoption and fostering of dogs that are homeless and are not claimed by their owners.