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Wish Bone Canine Rescue Searches For A New Home

Larry Apfelbaum
Wish Bone Canine Rescue provides low cost vaccination and spay/neuter clinics to the public and offers a pet food bank to help keep pets in their homes and out of shelters.

Wish Bone Canine Rescue is seeking the community’s help in finding a new home for its shelter.

For three years, the non-profit rescue leased space on Bunn Street, but the property owner now has other plans for the site. 

“He's hoping by the spring he'll have all the necessary approval, which would then unfortunately result in the demolishing of the structure that we've been using for the past 3 1/2,” said Wish Bone Canine Rescue President Larry Apfelbaum. “He told us when we rented the facility, this was his plan. We just, he just didn't know the exact timeline.”

Apfelbaum said all options are on the table.

“Because if we can’t find a building, then we may end up having to go back to a foster-based system like we did when we started this organization. That severely limits and cut backs the number of animals we can rescue and rehome,” he said.

The rescue’s search has been hampered by its desire to allow the dogs time outside for exercise and recreation, which requires a location away from residential areas. The rescue also hopes to find a location with kennels. 

“If we find a building and if the building is currently set up to house the animals, there may be very little that we have to do to transfer our operations to the new structure. There's not many kennels that fit that bill that are available for sale at this time,” said Apfelbaum.

The rescue must find a location that has no residential properties within 1,000 feet, if located in Bloomington, or 600 feet if in McLean County. Normal has no predetermined zoning requirements.

“Both of those jurisdictions have setback requirements, so that there's no barking noise issue near residential facilities in town,” said Apfelbaum.

Currently the rescue has nearly 70 dogs. 

Credit Larry Apfelbaum
Wish Bone Canine Rescue is a not-for-profit, no-kill organization.

The new location also has to be about 4,000 square feet, a minimum of a half-acre site, and the property must be zoned for agriculture, manufacturing, business or commercial. 

“Our preference is to have a kennel structure where we can house, and more importantly, provide veterinary care and retraining. Having the dogs in one location allows for that to be handled more efficiently,” said Apfelbaum. “If you have fosters, first you have to find a place to ... render the veterinary care and then have the animals individually transported. It puts a serious burden on our volunteer network, as well as the veterinarians that are involved helping us.”

Wish Bone Canine Rescue is a no-kill shelter. It has completed more than 6,000 adoptions since its founding in 2009. 

The shelter has not lost any employees and is still running the shelter full-time.

“Assuming we go into another facility, then we'll still have the same employees. COVID has affected our volunteers more than anything else,” said board member Linda Krueger. “If we go to a foster-based system, we would probably maintain one or two employees and our seven part-time employees would be let go because our part-time employees take care of the dogs at the shelter.”

Economic factors also have affected the shelter’s ability to secure a space. 

“We found a couple places and because the interest rates are so low right now, they're snapped up before we even have a chance to put a bid in on them,” said Krueger. 

The rescue is hoping the public may be able generate some new ideas regarding a location that fits its requirements. 

“We did have that happen to two facilities that we didn't even get the full opportunity to inspect these facilities,” said Apfelbaum. “One we visited and the other, we were scheduling a visit and the Realtors called us back and said they were under contract already. So these kinds of commercial structures, with low interest rates, are moving relatively quickly, which is why it's important to spread the word.”

This isn’t the first time the shelter has relocated. Wish Bone Canine Rescue got its first building about seven years ago.

“We truly have a local focus. Wish Bone takes the vast majority of dogs from the McLean County Animal Control, relieving the taxpayers of the burden,” said Apfelbaum. “My recollection is that Wish Bone was taking about 80% of the dogs from McLean County Animal Control and transferred them to fosters. We're not alone, but are there many wonderful foster rescue groups here in the community that helped.”