$3M ‘dream’ Champaign County animal shelter now open nearly 1 month


The Champaign County Animal Welfare League, a $3 million shelter created from a donation left by a patron in his will, is nearing its one-month anniversary.

» PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Champaign County man’s dream of $3 million animal sanctuary ready to open

The shelter opened at 3858 Ohio 56 outside Mechanicsburg on Oct. 28 on the site of a secluded farm. The new facility includes classrooms for training, a grooming room, an indoor dog park and a room dedicated to caring for senior dogs. The property also includes two outdoor agility courses and a pet cemetery where owners can spread the ashes of pets who have passed away.

“This is a state of the art place,” Executive Director Tiger Franks said. “It’s definitely something that’s needed in our area.”

The facility was funded by a donation left by David Robert Wetzell, a member of the community who had dreamed of creating the shelter while he was alive.

“We have followed his wishes,” Franks said. “It’s a work in progress but we are following everything that he wanted.”

The shelter also has a clinic on-site that was named for Wetzell. It provides low-cost services for the public, including spaying and neutering, micro-chipping and vaccinations. The shelter also operates a Catch, Neuter, Release program in an effort to combat the growing feral cat population.

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Franks said she also plans on adding other things to the shelter, such as an outdoor pool and a “Kitty City” to cater to area cat lovers.

The welfare league offers yearly memberships for anyone who’d like to use the facilities, including the grooming areas and agility courses. Family memberships are $150 per year and single memberships are $100 per year, Franks said. Discounts are available for seniors, veterans and first responders.

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