Pet Passion

Animal Welfare League Strives to Pair People With Potential Pets

Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Just for a moment, consider what it is that makes humans feel valued, cherished and appreciated. Perhaps it’s a little affection, a gentle gesture, or an encouraging word or two. Above all else, it begins with unconditional love and companionship.Animal Welfare League

If that same question were posed to the folks behind the Animal Welfare League (AWL) of Kosciusko County, they would be remiss not to observe that animals deserve that very same love.

The AWL has made it a continuous goal to abide by this principle for more than 40 years. This nonprofit agency serves as a liaison between loyal, loving families and neglected animals in need of homes.

Originally known as the Humane Society of Kosciusko County, the fledgling group experienced several changes following its inception, including being a county-run shelter from 1989 to 1998. The county then turned over the shelter, and the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County was born as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Over time the AWL was able to grow and expand with a new shelter on the five-acre AWL campus. Next year they will celebrate 25 years as a nonprofit.

Through the past year the AWL has been particularly active, with new leadership, fundraisers, and special events constantly being added to their operations. With their amazing staff, wonderful executive director and energized board of directors, they are committed to working for, and engaging with, the community through educational programming, reuniting pets with their owners, a robust kitty foster program, and innovative adoption promotions. These are all key pieces of their lifesaving strategy for abandoned and unwanted pets in the county. Their continued success comes from donors and supporters.

The AWL also recently received a Touchstone Award from Best Friends Animal Society at their national conference. They are oneAnimal Welfare League of five shelters in the country out of 3,700 to receive this award for their remarkably low euthanasia rate. The five shelters that won this award were based on their intake size.

Last year the AWL took in 1,313 pets at their facility. Every pet gets a complete wellness check. They provide microchips, vaccines, spaying and neutering, and any needed health care. In 2021 they reunited 214 families with their pets because they had been microchipped. Last year their animal care expenses totaled $77,000.

The amazing AWL shelter staff has a passion for working to find homes for shelter pets entrusted to their care. They have happy stories every day of pets going home with loving families. Of course, they also have sad stories of people having to give up their pets.

Going forward, the vision remains grounded in benevolence. So what can the public do to help to ensure the success and well-being of the AWL and the animals it works endlessly to serve? As it turns out, a great deal. Volunteers are always welcome in any and every capacity, whether that means spending time with the animals, donations tailored for their care, or participation in the various programs.

John Lantz, who serves as the president for the board, along with Tonya Blanchard, executive director, are joined by a team of board officers and directors to keep the timely issues of the AWL in the forefront of people’s minds, and they have all been able to achieve this by offering a number of activities and special events for patrons and supporters of all ages.

The AWL Shelter Buddies literacy program has kids come to the shelter on the third Saturday of each month between noon and 3 p.m., and read books out loud to the shelter pets – a sweet way to encourage companionship and improve reading skills.

New this year is an endeavor that the AWL has christened The Cat House. Making use of an existing building that was already situated on the shelter property when the AWL relocated there, the AWL is using the structure specifically to house the extensive number of shelter cats. The previous housing arrangement, in which kennels were placed close to where the cats were living, was Animal Welfare Leaguecausing stress for the cats, who became unnerved and jittery with the barking of restless dogs. The new feline suites will have ample light streaming through banks of windows, separate cubicles for medical care and an interaction space for families to spend time with the cats.

The Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County is located at 1048 South 325 East in Pierceton. To learn more about upcoming programs, adoption events and other details, visit or call 574-267-3008.

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