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Agency’s assist for man’s best FRIEND

Patty Benton, a Westfield-Maville Rotarian, was the program presenter at the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club meeting at The Parkview in Westfield on March 3.

WESTFIELD — Patty Benton, Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville board member, presented a program about the Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue during the meeting of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club at The Parkview in Westfield. Benton, a Westfield resident, chairs this Rotary group’s community service, foundation, and district grants committees. She served as its president in 1995-96. Also, she is a dedicated NCCR volunteer.

She said, “I’ve always loved dogs. I think I came out of the womb loving dogs. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a dog. Every day on the way home from school, I trained a neighbor’s dog to follow me home. Of course, my mother made me return it to our neighbor. Fast forward, my husband and I now have three dogs, plus cats and a bunny.”

Benton, who retired several years ago, rejoined Rotary and began volunteering at the NCCR in Westfield. The NCCR, a no kill shelter, was formed in 1999 by Jann Balsano and Brenda Luce. The town and village of Westfield and town of Ripley animal control officer permitted NCCR to lease a facility on his rural property. In return, NCCR volunteers cared for stray dogs from these municipalities. If the dogs were unclaimed, it helped to find them new homes.

NCCR was incorporated in 1999, received its 501(c)3 status in 2000, and purchased its own building in 2002. NCCR lists its mission statement as follows: to rescue and provide sanctuary for stray and abandoned dogs and puppies and do our best to secure for each of them permanent, loving, responsible homes; to promote respect and compassion for all creatures through humane education; to reduce pet overpopulations by increasing public awareness of the need to spay and neuter companion animals; and to maintain and operate a shelter for dogs and puppies.

Benton stated, “We help the neediest dogs and puppies, those that are strays, orphaned and abandoned. About 250 to 350 dogs come to NCCR each year. We get dogs from all over the county, not just Westfield. In many towns in our area, strays that are not claimed in a certain time period are euthanized. NCCR is a ‘no kill’ shelter.”

She continued, “We get dogs and puppies because people are moving and can’t take them along. We may get them when people pass away. In the case of strays, we can sometimes reunite them with their owners. When some of the stray dogs are not claimed by their families, we put them up for adoption. When we have space, NCCR also takes in dogs from high kill shelters in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. We also get dogs from puppy mills, and these dogs need a lot of rehabilitation. At NCCR all of these dogs are given a second chance of life.”

Each dog that is taken in at NCCR is altered, fully vaccinated, wormed and micro chipped. Dog-loving volunteers, such as Benton, generously donate their time to care for the hundreds of dogs that enter NCCR’s doors. The volunteers work hard to find a family most suited to each dog by considering the family’s lifestyle, as well as the needs and temperament of each dog. Following an adoption, NCCR conducts follow-up telephone calls and/or interviews so that the adoption is successful.

Benton said, “Our volunteers do reference checks on those who want to adopt our dogs. We also do a ‘meet and greet’ if you already have a dog in the family and want to adopt another one. Plus, if you are unsure if you want to commit to having a dog full-time, we do place dogs in foster homes. This is especially true with little dogs, who don’t like our big shelter and yard area. And if a person is unable to adopt a dog at this time, he/she can sponsor a dog for $10 per month.”

She noted that the adoption fee for a dog is $190, and for a puppy it is $250, though some of the latter fee is refunded once proof is shown that the puppy was later spayed or neutered. Benton said that if a person has never owned a dog and wants to adopt one, NCCR volunteers are willing to work with people to train them on how to have a dog.

NCCR volunteers offer hands on care to dogs and puppies. A training class is required and is offered each month to prepare volunteers to work with the dogs. Volunteers also help with fund-raising events, writing grants and more. There are opportunities for those who wish to offer just a few hours per week of their time or for those who are able to commit many hours at this shelter. Though NCCR has two paid staff members, it relies heavily on its volunteers.

This shelter operates on a limited budget. Its income comes from fund-raisers, donations, and a contract with its local municipality to house stray dogs brought in by the dog control officer. NCCR welcomes donations of funds and also of specific items, such as canned dog food, paper towels, etc.

NCCR is currently conducting its “Buy a Brick for the Dogs” campaign. The public is invited to buy one or more engraved bricks for the NCCR’s front walk at a cost of $50 per each 4- by 8-inch brick. Bricks may be in memory of a beloved pet or person or pay tribute to a current pet or person. They make great gifts.

Each brick has room for three lines of engraving with 12 letters per line. Plus, there are images of certain dog breeds and dog related items that can be added. NCCR is taking orders and accepting payment now for the bricks. After the bricks are engraved and the weather permits, the bricks will be installed on the front walk way.

NCCR is located at 7540 N. Gale St. in Westfield. Its hours are Monday through Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. or by appointment. For more information about its dogs that are available for adoption, how to become a volunteer, ways to donate, and its “Buy a Brick for the Dogs” campaign, visit the NCCR website of www.caninerescue.org; email adoptions@caninerescue.org or call 326-7297 (PAWS).

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