Plan to open North Huntingdon no-kill shelter comes to abrupt end

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m.

A former North Huntingdon resident has halted plans to open a no-kill shelter after being cited for having an unlicensed dog in Sewickley Township.

Sewickley Township resident Tara Rainey said she made the decision not to continue with the Norwin No Kill Shelter after a dispute with a neighbor, who told township officials about cats roaming on her property. Rainey also received a citation for having an unlicensed pit bull mix for several months.

Rainey directed all comments to her attorney, Larry Burns of Greensburg, who could not be reached for comment.

Rainey began raising money for the shelter in March, in the hope of collecting $10,000 to lease a building to house the shelter to house animals indefinitely, and offer pet adoptions. Once the shelter was operational, Rainey planned to run it solely on donations.

She collected money through donation buckets at several businesses throughout the region and solicited donations online through the Norwin No Kill Shelter website and a Facebook page, both of which have been shut down.

In April, Irwin resident Zach Morton contributed $1,000 toward the Norwin No Kill Shelter, to help Rainey open the facility.

“I know a lot of people who can't handle their pets and animals and just get rid of them,” Morton said. “I have a big heart for animals, so I wanted to help their cause and address this problem.”

After making his donation, Morton said, he exchanged several emails with Rainey.

Morton said Rainey wrote that her family purchased 5.5 acres of land in Herminie, and were waiting for approval for tax-exemption status from the IRS.

Morton said Rainey last contacted him in June and said his money had been used to pay for veterinarian bills for two cats and to start building a facility.

It was the last email Morton received from Rainey, he said.

“Maybe something happened, and it didn't work out, but at the same time. I at least want an explanation of what's going on,” Morton said. “If she was really serious about this, why did she back off so easily?”

Morton did not say he wanted his money back but said he wants to make sure his money was spent properly.

Rainey said she filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to make the Norwin No Kill Shelter a nonprofit organization but never received the tax-exempt status, according to a story in the Tribune-Review.

Prior to attempting to start the Norwin No Kill Shelter, Rainey spent 13 years working at the Fallen Timber Animal Shelter in Elizabeth, where she was a veterinary technician.

Sewickley Township dog-enforcement officer Fred Moran cited Rainey at her apartment for not having a license for her pit bull mix, which she had for five months.

The citation, which was filed in West Newton District Judge Charles Christner's office, carries fine of $50 to $300.

According to court records, Christner's office mailed Rainey a summons on Sept. 4 and is awaiting her plea. Once Christener's office receives her plea, a court date can be scheduled.

Norwin No Kill Shelter is not listed in a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture kennel inspection database.

Moran said a licensed kennel needs to have current inspection records.

“She seems to understand she's working perfectly legally, and she's not,” the dog-enforcement officer said. “She keeps (cats) in the house, and she's got them in individual rooms.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or Trib Total Media staff writer Stacy Federoff contributed to this report.

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