By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Friday, Oct 22, 2010
Akron's homeless cats and dogs are about to get an upgrade to five-star accommodations.
One of a Kind Pet Rescue, one of the largest nonprofit rescue operations in the area, is moving to a state-of-the-art, 9,000-square-foot adoption center at 1718 Saddlewood Ave. on the city's west side.
The center, currently at 1699 W. Market St., rescued 1,200 animals last year and placed 953 in homes. It has outgrown its confines, said Georjette Thomas, director of organization advancement for the agency.
''The new facility will allow us to move our animals through the system better in a more mentally balanced manner,'' she said.
The adoption center will continue to work in conjunction with its spay and neuter clinic at 1700 W. Exchange St.
With the grand opening slated for Oct. 29, employees and volunteers are busy stocking a more spacious retail area that will feature a broader assortment of items, including pet-themed apparel for owners, bulk and packaged cat litter and an enhanced selection of high-quality dog and cat foods.
''I don't know who is going to be happier, the employees or the animals,'' said Lorie Ollom, manager of retail operations.
The building and property for the new center was funded through a grant by the Assisi Foundation, headed by the agency's founder, Lisa Holland Toth, and her husband, Michael Toth.
One of a Kind took out a $1.3 million loan to finish the internal construction, built specifically for cat and dog habitation. The building will remain in the hands of the rescue operation as long as it remains in the animal adoption business, Thomas said.
Retail sales are expected to raise money to pay off the loan, she said.
''One hundred percent of the proceeds is going to our rescue mission,'' Thomas said.
Many features in the new building are based on the business model of PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) Chicago.
That agency, the largest no-kill shelter in Chicago, gained prominence last winter when Oprah Winfrey announced on her television show that she had adopted her 14-week-old springer spaniel puppies from the shelter as a birthday gift to herself.
Several One of a Kind employees traveled to Chicago to tour the facility before plans were drawn up for the Akron adoption center, Thomas said.
While regular customers to One of a Kind's original 700-square-foot retail space might miss being batted by playful kittens, the new facility's 2,600-square-foot store will let customers view the animals before they touch them. Glass-enclosed cat habitats, cages and rooms where felines can freely romp will keep them safely away from the public and the stock safe from them.
''Frequently items got ruined before they were sold and had to be thrown away,'' said adoption center director Dawn Pokorny.
There also will be viewing rooms for adoptable dogs that were corralled in small fenced-off areas in the former building.
One of a Kind Pet and Adoption Center's grand opening will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 29. Both buildings will be closed Wednesday and Thursday in advance of the move. Selected merchandise can be purchased at the current location for up to 40 percent off until the move.
For the next 10 days, adoption fees for fully vetted cats and kittens will be reduced to $25.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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