“Our most important mission is to spay or neuter every dog and cat that's of reproductive age in the area.”
Area residents and supporters of the facility seemed to enjoy refreshments as they toured rooms where the animals are housed.
“The project took five years and cost $400,000,” said Counts. “And every bit was raised through donations.”
The animal shelter for stray and abandoned pets takes in the animals, spays or neuters them, worms them and vaccinates them, before adopting them out.
Sierra's Haven will offer a complete surgery treatment room and more.
“We also have an education room, in which school kids can come and learn about responsible pet ownership and the importance of spaying and neutering,” said Counts.
Scioto County has an overpopulation of dogs and cats, according to Counts, and 30 to 40 animals a week are killed at the dog pound.
Sierra's Haven, which is located at 80 Easter Drive, directly behind Heartland Nursing Home, charges $75 to adopt a dog and $40 for a cat.
“When you count the spaying and neutering, the worming, the vaccinations, the facilities we house them in, and all the expenses involved, there is not much of a margin,” said Counts.
Charles and Brenda Lux, of Piketon, have been involved in the fundraising for the shelter.
“We got involved because we love animals,” said Brenda. “We have 40 cats, three dogs and one bird, all are rescued animals.”
The Luxes own a mobile home park in Pike County and it seems to be a throw-away place for animals people want to get rid of.
“We get the tortured ones, or the ones people have abandoned in mobile homes to starve to death,” said Charles Lux.
Charles Lux said a lot of the problems stem from people who don't want to pay to have their animals fixed.
“We have a low-cost spay and neuter program, through the United Way, for low income families,” said Counts.
Counts said places such as New York have success stories.
“They have done such a wonderful job of spaying and neutering, that they actually have empty rooms, so sometimes we are able to send some of the animals to them,” she said.
For people who want to get involved, there are things that they can do. Counts has a wish list.
“We need things like dog beds and cat beds, feeding dishes, toys, towels, cages, paper to use to print fliers, and we need a fax machine and about seven land line phones,” Counts said. “But we do not, I repeat, do not need food. We have a special agreement with Hill Science Diet, and they provide our food.”
The other thing that the public can do is volunteer.
“We are only going to have three paid positions - administrator, animal care supervisor and volunteer coordinator. The rest of the jobs, we hope will be handled by volunteers.”
One person who is very active at Sierra's Haven, Sandy Welton, was greeting and assisting people inquiring about the dogs and cats currently lodged at the shelter.
“We have adopted 19 animals today alone,” Welton said.