Kathleen McCafferty

Fairview Park resident Kathleen McCafferty plays with her 7-year-old labradoodle, Quinn, in the newly renovated city kennel. McCafferty organized the renovation, raising over $1,000 in 2019.

After months of seeing posts on the Community of Fairview Park Facebook page about the deterioration of the city’s animal kennel, Kathleen McCafferty couldn’t sit idly by any longer.

In August 2018, McCafferty, 64, organized a team of volunteers whose work included raising money for renovations. The team of Fairview Park residents raised $1,000 and received donations of needed equipment. Tear-out began this past spring and construction was finished in November.

“(The kennel) was chewed up, it was stained, it was just in terrible condition,” said McCafferty, a resident for 28 years. “That’s what motivated me to see if anybody would be interested in improving the kennel. I had made a post to see who would be interested and that’s where it jumped off at.”

Volunteers were former Fairview Park animal control officer and current city records clerk Dianne Williams along with Lauren Markus, Dan Kowalski, Greg Ristgano, Dave Helton, Karen Phillips and Dan Sammon.

McCafferty worked directly with Williams and Fairview Park police Chief Erich Upperman to make sure it was something they could do. Once she got the go-ahead, McCafferty began coordinating what each volunteer could bring or do.

Markus handled the architectural drawings, Kowalski did the tile installation and the rest of the group contributed to other aspects of the renovations. The money raised covered all costs.

“Once we had our group and had our plan going, then we went to residents to raise money for the things that we needed,” McCafferty said. “We needed a new heavy-duty gate that a dog couldn’t chew through. It needed new windows (and) it needed new flooring.”

Williams said the level of support the project received was “very overwhelming” but she knew it wouldn’t take much to get the ball rolling “with (the amount) of attention that animals are getting today.”

McCafferty, Williams and Upperman each recognized that renovating the kennel, which sits directly behind Fairview Park City Hall (20777 Lorain Road) was on the city’s capital project list, but that there were other more pressing matters ahead of it.

“I had known myself that the kennel needed a little bit of a facelift,” Williams said. “I understand that (certain) projects for the city are more important or need more attention than a temporary holding facility.”

Per McCafferty and Williams, the kennel can accommodate up to one large dog, one medium dog and several small dogs or cats. It will hold the animals for three to five days, giving owners a chance to claim them. Unclaimed dogs will be sent to the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter in Valley View. The Fairview kennel will attempt to rehome unclaimed cats before sending them to the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

During the renovations, the kennel could hold just one cat. Two or three dogs were temporarily displaced and held by Rocky River’s animal control officer, Williams said.

“I’m glad that we got it done and it just shows you how Fairview Park people come together to try to get something accomplished,” Upperman said. “A lot of our police officers have adopted dogs from out of our kennel. They’re all excited about the fact that it’s much nicer.”

McCafferty gave all the praise and credit to the volunteers, saying how many of them work full time and donated their evenings and days off during the renovation.

“Now we have a kennel that we can be proud of,” McCafferty said. “These people and the residents who donated money – I was actually in tears to see how much people cared for the animals.”

Contact this reporter at jkopanski@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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