It was with great disappointment that we learned that Angel Ridge Animal Rescue’s local share account project had not been approved by the Local Share Review Committee. Angel Ridge Animal Rescue is a shelter and sanctuary for abused, abandoned and handicapped dogs, cats and horses. We are a 501c3 organization that has been in operation in Chartiers Township since 2001. We accept approximately 150 new animals annually. We are funded entirely by private contributions.
Community outreach is a significant component of our overall mission. Every year, we host local Scout groups and groups of elementary and high school students from Washington and Allegheny counties for learning sessions and volunteer opportunities with our animals. For several years, we have hosted students from the Washington County visually impaired unit and the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. In past years, we hosted “lunch and learn” afternoons with residents of the Washington County Health Center.
Our outreach also extends to areas of public safety and human services. We accept stray and abused dogs from the animal control officer and humane society police officer that covers most of this county. We have assisted the coroner’s offices in both Allegheny and Washington counties with sanctuary and placement of animals when there is no family that will take them. We provide assistance to local charitable organizations when the displaced humans they are helping need temporary or permanent sanctuary for their pets. If you walked through our kennel building today, you would meet many of the dogs from these situations. Many have been beaten, starved, mutilated and abandoned in empty apartments or had been chained outside in freezing temperatures without food or shelter.
The funds that were requested, $3,890, were earmarked for a project that would enable us to continue our community outreach. Our adoption center is a former construction trailer that our volunteers have lovingly refurbished to be a comfortable and functional office for adoptions and meetings. Our problem is that we cannot access the two entrances to this facility in a safe manner. Two sets of makeshift, detached wooden steps came with the trailer and must be replaced with a safe and functional entrance. The project we submitted was for a deck with a handicapped ramp and a safe set of steps.
The total project cost was $7,780, a pittance of the $7.3 million that was recommended to be awarded. We only asked for 50 percent of the project amount because our volunteers raised the remaining funds over the Christmas holiday. Handicapped persons, many senior citizens and anyone with a mobility problem have no way of entering the adoption center to adopt a pet from us. Many sure-footed persons have fallen trying to enter the facility. We simply cannot accept the liability and likelihood of visitors falling on steps that we know are inadequate.
To the groups of students and others who have asked to visit Angel Ridge Animal Rescue this year, we must tell them “no,” but we will also tell them why. Angel Ridge Animal Rescue is as much about helping people as it is about helping animals, and this is just not right.
Editor’s note: Shannon is the president of Angel Ridge Animal Rescue.