HOPE — The town of Hope today opens its first permanent animal shelter, named in memory of a guardian angel for many pets — who looked out for people as well.

The Paula A. Pollitt Memorial Animal Shelter, located at 1101 Jackson St., will formally open with its 11 a.m. dedication.

About $14,000 is being invested into converting a former well house, located near the city limits on the town’s west side, into the new shelter, Hope town council president Clyde Compton said.

The project won town council approval about four months ago.

Story continues below gallery

The building was chosen because it was already owned by the town, which has been paying utilities and other upkeep on the largely unused structure, town manager J.T. Doane said.

While the town’s ultimate goal will be to provide pet-adoption services, Compton said the immediate concern of town leaders is the weather — on the heels of a recent cold snap.

“Let’s get these animals out of the cold, and provide them a safe, warm and dry place to stay — in honor of Paula,” Compton said.

Pollitt, who served on the town council and was council president at the time of her June 14, 2015 death, had been advocating for the construction of a Hope animal shelter.

She was 65.

The family of the late councilwoman and animal lover will be represented at today’s ceremony by Pollitt’s sister, Kim Wright Brockman, Doane said.

Beginning today, the fenced-in shelter that gives dogs and cats both indoor and outdoor access will be manned only a few hours a day by Hope Animal Control officer Lisa Hughes, Compton said.

Hughes has been provided both a desk and a computer inside the heated and air-conditioned shelter to handle record-keeping, he said.

People who need to have an animal picked up and taken to the shelter are asked to contact the Hope Police Department — at 812-546-4015, which will connect them with Hughes, Compton said.

But the council is expected to work with Hughes and other residents later this year to further address volunteer staffing and adoption issues, he said.

Negotiations got underway this week between the town and the Bartholomew County Humane Society to provide spay and neutering services, as well as shots, microchip tracking devices and other services at the shelter, Compton said.

“There’s a lot of details to be worked out,” Doane said.

Until an adoption process is put in place, the shelter can only keep animals for a limited time before they have to be turned over to the Humane Society, Compton said.

“For now, we’ll be able to feed, clean and water these animals,” Compton said. “We’ve done everything possible to make this the most humane situation we can.”

Remembering Paula Pollitt

Hope area residents recall the late Paula Pollitt as an avid animal lover, but a broader cross section of people saw first-hand how she could turn that love into joy for others.

While working in the radiology department at Columbus Regional Hospital, Pollitt garnered a lot of friends by founding a pet therapy program for hospital patients.

Once a week, she would take her mild-mannered collie, Laddie, on weekly visits to see patients hospitalized by illness or injury. The two would also visit with patients at the Silver Oaks Health Campus.

Other hospital employees also participated with their pets in the program, which was so popular that Laddie was named the 2006 Volunteer of the Year at Columbus Regional Hospital.

If you go

What: Grand opening and dedication of the Paula A. Pollitt Memorial Animal Shelter, 1101 Jackson St., Hope.

When: 11 a.m. ceremony today with light refreshments.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.