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In Care of Cats plans expansion to former Fallen Timber shelter

| Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 1:26 a.m.
The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and In Care of Cats have reached an agreement that will let the feline welfare nonprofit lease the Fallen Timber Animal Shelter in Elizabeth Township for a year with the option of buying it.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and In Care of Cats have reached an agreement that will let the feline welfare nonprofit lease the Fallen Timber Animal Shelter in Elizabeth Township for a year with the option of buying it.

In Care of Cats has inked an agreement with the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society that should enable the feline welfare organization to expand its operations into Fallen Timber Animal Shelter.

The lease agreement, which includes an option to buy after one year, is being hailed as a positive move by both parties.

The Pittsburgh-based Humane Society closed the shelter in Elizabeth Township last year for financial reasons.

The Humane Society's executive director, Dave Janusek, said In Care of Cats' desire to expand its services into the vacant facility was compatible with the society's own animal welfare goals.

The Humane Society received offers on the facility that it didn't consider, he said.

“We didn't want to just sell it to any private party,” Janusek said. “We've known from working with (In Care of Cats) that their organization fit the bill. They're respected and someone in the community who knows what they are doing.”

In Care of Cats, which is based near Fallen Timber, will rent the facility, which includes a pet cemetery, for the first year. At that point it will have the option of purchasing it for $250,000.

In Care of Cats founder Risé Chontos said the move into the shelter will enable her nonprofit to develop new services like an adoption program for “cats that fall through the cracks.”

That group would include animals that have suffered injuries or have physical abnormalities but otherwise make suitable pets. Chontos' current sanctuary is for rescued and nonadoptable cats.

Once the Fallen Timber shelter is operational, Chontos hopes to use it as a center for spay and neutering clinics, educational outreach programs specializing in cat outreach and care, and as a base for a trap, neuter and release program.

Janusek said the Humane Society isAlooking to partner with In Care of Cats to offer some of these public services.

The repurposed center will help reduce the burden cats now put on the society's shelter, according to Janusek, who said the majority of animals the Humane Society receives are cats.

In Care of Cats will oversee maintenance on the Louise Shaw Dill Pet Memorial Cemetery at Fallen Timber.

Chontos said her organization likely will continue to employ a contractor already used for upkeep of the graveyard.

“It will be open,” Chontos said, adding that anyone with questions about the cemetery should call 412-378-0273.

Janusek said the Humane Society offered the rental provision to allow the cat shelter to move into the facility at an earlier date than if it were buying right away.

Chontos is reluctant to put a firm date on when the shelter will become operational but said her organization will be stepping up its fundraising efforts to support the new venture.

In Care of Cats will host its Autumn Celebration fundraiser Oct. 19 at Central Volunteer Fire Hall.

The group is looking to expand its board of directors and restructure policies in response to its expansions, Chontos said.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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