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Pa. animal shelter a sanctuary for displaced pets

August 13, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Eleven-year-old Cricket frolics with other dogs and chews on her cloth bone without a care in the world.

The cocker spaniel has no idea she was hours away from being euthanized a few months ago after her owner died. Remaining family members were unable to care for the aging dog and saw no alternative, until at the last minute a veterinarian mentioned a new animal sanctuary opening in Franklin County that might be willing to take her in, said Nancy Gardner, one of the directors of Angel Hill Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit shelter in Hamilton Township.

That was about three months ago, and since then Cricket has shed a few pounds and is friendly with other animals and humans.


Cricket is the only official resident of the sanctuary, which currently has room for seven dogs on 16 acres owned by Wanda Davenport.

It was the joint effort of Gardner, Davenport and Martha Hyatt - all animal lovers who met through their work with the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg - that brought the sanctuary to life.

The sanctuary only accepts animals of elderly residents who have died or become unable to care for their pets, Gardner said.

Angel Hill promises to care for the pets for the remainder of their lives.

With the growth of an aging population in the area, the need for Angel Hill is great, she said. The elderly can not always rely on family members or friends to carry out their wishes and the pet goes uncared for.

"Our mission is to ease the elderly's concern. They can feel better knowing their animal will be cared for," Hyatt said.

As a nonprofit organization, Angel Hill relies on donations and advises residents to put their wishes for their pets in a will.

At enrollment, Angel Hill asks for a $500 fee and works out a sum determined by the age and breed of the animal.

"We spend $500 a year on food for a dog like Cricket, and there is medical care and grooming," Gardner said.

She said donations are welcome to expand Angel Hill's services and to start a benevolent fund.

Ultimately, Gardner, Davenport and Hyatt envision a group of movable "house units" grouped around a play yard.

Gardner expects that most of the pets that come to Angel Hill will have been with their owners for many years, and due to their age would not be considered "adoptable."

"They are set in their ways," Davenport said.

However, if it's the owner's desire, Angel Hill will try to find a family to place the pet with, and will continue to monitor its care.

Hyatt stressed the mission of the animal sanctuary is specific so it does not compete with the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg or Antietam Humane Society in Waynesboro, Pa.

For more information on Angel Hill, or to volunteer to help care for the animals, call 717-377-5290 or write to P.O. Box 124, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

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