Citizen Donates $250K For New Dog Shelter In Morrow County

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Dogs in one central Ohio county are about to get a new, safer home, thanks to the generosity of a private citizen.

A businessman who says he's just an animal lover is donating a quarter of a million dollars.
     
They are animals without a place to call home, abandoned and alone, until they found care at the Morrow County Dog Shelter.

But in recent years, they've had to seek shelter from the shelter.

The nearby Whetstone Creek may look harmless most days, but last summer, heavy rains sent it spilling beyond its banks. 10TV was there as volunteers scrambled to rescue 27 dogs from the rising water. At the time all of the dogs were saved. 

Two years earlier, they weren't so lucky.In 2011, Morrow County Dog Warden Sarina Atwell found more than three feet of water in the shelter. They were able to save 19 dogs, but three didn't make it.

"It was scary. It was scary simply because one, I've never dealt with it before. Number two, I could hear the dogs. They were obviously scared themselves," said Atwell.

"This has been an ongoing problem that seems to be getting worse,” said Morrow County Commissioner Tom Whiston. He says the shelter sits in a floodplain, a problem the county hasn't had the money to solve.

Enter business man and animal lover Steve Belford.

"Everybody deserves to have a best friend. And sometimes, those best friends come with four legs,” said Belford, the owner of American Freight.

He may be Morrow County's best friend. Belford and his wife have adopted dogs from the shelter, and after seeing the story on the news, were moved to help. 

"Our feeling is the community has been so good to us. And we wanted to give back to the community,”

The Belfords are doing that with a $250,000 donation, in the form of a brand new dog shelter.
"We're actually allowing them to come onto county property, build the building, and then we'll accept that as a gift in-kind to the county,” said Whiston, who helped broker the deal. "It's fantastic, and we're very grateful."

Asked what she would say to Belford, Atwell answered, “Well I don't know if it'd be what I'd say or what I'd do - maybe a great big hug?  A huge thank you, it's spectacular. It's huge for the community. It's huge for us, huge for the dogs."

Belford hopes his donation inspires others to help, however they can.

"Every little bit counts,” he said. “Whether you help them financially, or whether you go help them and just adopt a dog. Give back to your communities. Help out. They really need you. And we're happy we could be a part of it."

Whiston says ground will be broken on the new shelter September 18. It's slated to be open by next summer. 

The group "Friends of the Morrow County Dog Shelter" is collecting donations to help cover additional expenses. You can email them at FriendsoftheMCDogShelter@gmail.com.