From the AWL News – Spring 2016 newsletter
In the Spring of 1976, a small group of people got together with a big idea and decided to assist the animals of Benzie County and the Animal Welfare League of Benzie County (AWL) was formed. The AWL became a non-profit organization in 1977 and created the “Pet Hotline” about that time also. Here’s a look back of what they have accomplished over the past 40 years.
Some records were lost over time but as far as they can figure, the AWL has assisted with more than 8400 spays and neuters since the program started in 1980. However, in 1999, the spay/neuter program stopped due to lack of funding but was able to start up again a few years later. Now, Benzie County residents can still apply for assistance through their Prevent a Litter Program. The AWL is financed completely by memberships and donations alone. Thanks to generous donations, the AWL has received and spent over $600,000 with the majority funding the spay/neuter program and medical care for the animals of Benzie County.
In 1993, the AWL raised and donated $90,000 toward building a new shelter to move it from the old location at the County Dump to its present location near the Government Center and Sheriff’s Department. Since the official opening of the new shelter on October 3, 1993, the AWL has continued to make improvements to the current shelter and in recent years, installed air conditioning, a building generator, new roof and numerous other improvements.
By 1995, the Pet Hotline logged in over 15,000 calls and by 2001 had recorded over 20,000 hours of advice and assistance. The Pet Hotline not only reunited pets and their owners, it also helped adopt many abandoned and unclaimed pets, keeping them out of the County shelter. Now with the rise of social media, the Pet Hotline comes alive through their AWL Facebook page, helping find and reunite pets with their owners.
In 2005, the AWL rallied to keep the shelter open when there were rumors it would be closed. Voters overwhelmingly supported and passed the millage that supports the animal shelter and animal control. That millage is voted on every four years and has always had a positive outcome thanks to the wonderful people of Benzie County. The millage will be up for vote again on the ballot in 2017.
In 2012, the AWL assisted the Animal Control Department in the purchase of a much needed new vehicle with a climate control topper to keep the animals cool during hot summer days.
The AWL works closely with the Benzie County Commissioners and Animal Control Officers to serve the animals and the people of Benzie County. This relationship is vital for positive improvement for the care of the animals. In 2015, only 11 cats and three dogs had to be euthanized, due to illness, not overpopulation. Compare that to 242 dogs and 159 cats being euthanized in 1987. This is clearly the result of everyone working together for the betterment of the animals.
They have come a long way in 40 years and are looking forward to the next 40.