By Jason Schock
What began as wishful thinking — poodle’s paradise? — on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014 officially became reality for the fine folks of the Humane Society and the critters they care for.
With the snip of a ribbon by long-time local animal rights champion Bev Kimmel, the Humane Society opened the doors of its new facility; a 900-square-foot building equipped to provide food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, a warm bed when it’s cold, asylum from an unrelenting Nebraska July, a sturdy roof when it rains and, above all, love for the unloved. What started with a couple squeaky old wheels has emerged as a sanctuary for the forsaken. The roughly $80,000 building, located on West 14th Street, north and west of the bowling alley, is shiny and new, complete with state-of-the-art air conditioning and heating units and kennels for nine roommates. The structure is made of concrete and steel, but The Humane Society is made of so much more.
“From the biggest gift to the smallest, they have all worked together to make it happen,” Secretary/Treasurer Julie Phroper said. “It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears for us to get this done. It’s simply amazing when I look back from 2008 and realize how many dogs and cats have walked though our doors, (numbering close to 500) some have stayed the rest of their lives, many have found their ‘Furever’ home, and some still waiting. Their stories have left paw prints on our hearts, and we are truly blessed to have a place and a community that helps us to help them. Each happy wag of the tail bringing utmost joy, and each sad case a tear. We have helped to save many unwanted litters by spaying or neutering — I know we have helped hundreds of animals and their owners, and can only guess how much suffering we have eased and ended by helping all we could. Now we can help a few more and it is such a great feeling to know we are making a difference for our homeless furry friends and our community,” Phroper, who is entrusted with the care of the cats, taking pictures of animals at the City Pound, giving information to The Journal, said
The Humane Society was founded by Bev and Joann Dunn at a meeting of the City Council in 1997 as a cry for mercy on behalf of the countless abandoned animals being inhumanly disposed of by government edict. Tiny get-togethers at Hinky Dinky followed. Marian Vernon and Bev Chesnut joined the fight, current President Ardis Ramsey, Phroper and Bud Gerweck stepped up, as did the late Doris Chandler and Rachael Yoesel.
“They cannot speak so we are their voice,” Ramsey told The Journal last summer. “They did not ask for the circumstances in which they find themselves.”
Mrs. Ramsey started with the Humane Society in 2001 after learning that more than 30 dogs and a large number of cats were being euthanized in a single year at the City Pound because there were no other options.
“People who care need to get involved and change that,” she said. “I cared and got involved. Things have changed due to other caring people who also got involved,” Ardis said.
The property was purchased in 2008 with the idea from it would sprout a new shelter. A building fund was started at First National Bank and the shelter took root, growing slowly with a cookie sold here, a Husker football ticket raffled there. In 2012 came the real growth spurt and the vision of a new shelter truly emerged on the horizon, no longer a false oasis. Patty Plaster, a 62-year-old Southeast Consolidated School teacher and animal lover from Stella, fell ill and passed away in the fall of 2011. But her spirit lives today at the new shelter, because it was the generous gift she left the Humane Society that ultimately made it possible. “Her greatest love and passion was animals, from pigeons to raccoons and her cousin’s dog ‘Sofie,’ but always and most especially cats,” Patty’s obituary reads. “She was seldom seen without a cat on her lap or twirling around her ankles as she walked downtown.”
Dirt and concrete work began a year ago, but was halted until May 2014 due to wintry weather. “When people would send a donation, they were asked if they wanted it to go to the building fund or general, or for kitties or dogs,” Phroper said.
The blueprints were drawn up by Mezger Construction, who also performed the major construction. El Camino Electric, Meyer Home Center, Jones Air Conditioning, Pawnee CIty Guttering and Froeschl Flooring did work on the shelter. Mrs. Ramsey and Mr. Gerweck did some of the interior work with painting and sealing of the concrete.
“The Humane Society wishes to thank all the people who have made donations, memorials, with the support of the community and all our animals lovers this would have been possible!, Phroper said.