Pictured from left to right are Jim Dettrow representing the Van Wert Freedom Cruise, his daughter Cloe Dettrow, who helped sell 50/50 tickets, Dakotah Nihiser and Deb Sealscott, Humane Society President. (Rebecca Violet/DHI Media)
Pictured from left to right are Jim Dettrow representing the Van Wert Freedom Cruise, his daughter Cloe Dettrow, who helped sell 50/50 tickets, Dakotah Nihiser and Deb Sealscott, Humane Society President. (Rebecca Violet/DHI Media)
VAN WERT — On Wednesday, July 27, Dakotah Nihiser decided to pay forward the kindness that she had been given. On April 19, 2022, Nihiser was diagnosed with stage 3 diserminoma ovarian cancer. The Van Wert Freedom Cruise fundraised to help Nihiser pay for some of her medical expenses. When Nihiser realized that she had more than enough, she wanted to pay it forward to the Van Wert County Humane Society.

Deb Sealscott, Van Wert County Humane Society president, was amazed and grateful for Nihiser’s thoughtfulness.

The humane society only recently completed the massive task of building a new shelter. Talks of a new building began back in 2014.

“Summer of 2019, we got the plans…and then we started our capital campaign in the fall of 2019,” said Sealscott.

In March of 2020, the Humane Society went public with its efforts.

“We had letters ready to go to all of our former adopters. We had plans in the work you know how to go public with our campaign,” Sealscott explained, “and then on March 13, of 2020, I believe the world changed with COVID.”

With the ongoing epidemic, the board members reached a consensus to pause the project. But COVID caused other problems.

“During COVID and with the supply and demand, the the cost of the building, according to architects went up exponentially,” Sealscott revealed. “So we took a different approach.”

The Humane Society took their plans to other contractors and found a reasonable offer. The project broke ground in 2021, with construction lasting nearly a year.

Despite delays and changes, Sealscott is very happy with the end result.

“The main things we needed with a new building was epoxy floors,” Sealscott explained. “We had unsealed concrete down on Bonnewitz [Avenue], which absorbs odors, germs, bacteria.”

Sealscott continued that they needed a floor that would be easy to clean.

Another important upgrade that the new facitlity contains is quarantine rooms. Before, the Humane Society had one large room for both healthy animals and sick animals.

“Now we have separate rooms for cat quarantine, dog quarantine, as well as dog warden, they also have their own set of kennels in their own entrance,” Sealscott revealed.

The new shelter is much more spacious at 3,600 square feet compared to the old shelter of 2,800 square feet.

A popular new edition is the “catio,” an outside play area for cats. Sealscott plans to have furniture in the catio for residents to visit, play, and relax with the cats.

Numerous local artists and businesses contributed to the interior design of the new shelter.

The new building costed $600,000 prior to COVID, but ended up being $770,000. Thanks to community support, the cost has been paid in full, with excess funding used for some of the furnishings.

“I would particularly like to thank Van Wert County Foundation,” Sealscott said. “They were very generous in their contribution, and I’m very much aware that without their contribution we may not have succeeded in what we wanted to do here.”

Sealscott expressed strong grattitude to all the local fincancial institutions, businesses, and individuals for their generous contributions.

“This is the community’s shelter. It belongs to our community.”

The open house for donors and VIPs will be on Thursday, August 11, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. The public open house will be on the following Saturday, August 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.