Krissi Hawke grew up just down the road in the Northwestern Local School District and graduated from the high school. When she was a kid, she begged her mother endlessly for a dog and one day her wish came true and mom brought home a cocker mix. That seems like a lifetime ago in Krissi years, but her love for that little dog paid off big time for her.
Now Krissi has never received a big pay check or won the lottery financially, but when she went to volunteer at The Humane Society Serving Clark County back in 2000, her love of animals paid off. Krissi says she was thrilled to be able to volunteer during the day while her two sons were in school. As a single mom, she could only go every other weekend, but those were the days she enjoyed despite the fact that she had one of the hardest jobs, cleaning the kennels.
Krissi stepped up to full time employee when she was hired to work in the kennels 40 hours a week. Not only was she getting to work with the dogs and cats, but she was also able to get paid a small salary. In 2003 former Director Ed Sisler hired Krissi as the full time Shelter Coordinator when the position suddenly came open.
As the years went by, Krissi served two full time and two interim directors at the shelter working not only to assure that all of the dogs and cats were properly taken care of when they came in the doors, but she increased awareness through various campaigns including fundraising, the prison program and starting to use social media when it became popular to find homes for the animals.
After more than twelve years in the position, Krissi figured out that the job she loved once was no longer the same position she felt comfortable staying in. An opportunity became available to her in nearby Madison County and she elected to leave the Humane Society. While making this decision, she also had a plan in her heart to one day return to Clark County and begin the process of building her dream of helping the animals and owners in the county not being served by other agencies.
Her husband Damon never tells Krissi no when it comes to her dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem to the rest of us. So they put a couple of thousand dollars of their own money together and she went “full speed ahead with both feet in” to start the paperwork to open the Clark County SPCA.
When Krissi left Clark County last year, the only Cruelty Investigator was also gone from the county. She is a sworn officer who did many of the investigations in the county while at the Humane Society including the hoarding case on Lower Valley Pike a number of years ago. Once she was able, Krissi headed off to the court house to once again be sworn in as the Cruelty Investigator so that she could “be the voice for the animals”.
“I want to help where I can help” said Krissi of this desire to move forward with the SPCA that has no real budget and is depending on some help from her friends to succeed. “I want the SPCA to fit in where it can fit in” she said of her programs that are in no way competing with The Animal Welfare League or Humane Society Serving Clark County.
With the money from her job in Madison County, Damon and Krissi started cleaning, fixing and getting a space ready at a building on Walter Street in Springfield. She needed a space to get the ball rolling where she could do paperwork and start to get services on the streets of the county for those who need to rehome their pets, have discovered strays and of course the endless number of liters of kittens coming for help.
At this point in time, an architect has drawn up the plans to renovate the building. There was a line of volunteers willing to help with the electric and plumbing upgrades to code. The required new doors and other walls but sadly none of them were “approved” contractors for the City of Springfield. Early estimates for the work was between $50,000 and $75,000 but the good news is that she now only needs $35,000 but it might as well be a million unless the community comes forward to help.
While the plans are done, the need to help animals could not wait for her to raise the funds needed to open to the public. There is no way Krissi Hawke can turn her back on any animal or human who is trying to help an animal. She pulled together a small group of volunteers who help her start coming up with fundraising and who are willing to help foster dogs and cats and spend time at PetSmart on Saturday.
Right now only Krissi and approved volunteers can be at the future home of the SPCA. That may seem like there would be no way for her to start her work, but Krissi is determined. She meets people in the parking lot who need to drop off a litter of kittens or has a cat they found wandering their yard. She has teamed up with two determined women who formed Animals Lost and Found Springfield Oho. They are helping dogs and cats to get back home using Facebook and working with Krissi.
While working at the Humane Society, Krissi found she had a real God given talent for taking photos of animals. That is no easy job when they are afraid or feeling insecure, but somehow they know she wants to help.
With the use of Facebook and people across the community “liking” her page, the SPCA has helped 3 dogs go back home and 2 find their way to rescue. That leaves 25 more that found new homes at events held at PetSmart. There are still 7 in foster care at press time and more knocking on the door for help every day.
Foster homes are being used for the cats that have come by for help too. With help from PetSmart, 9 have found new homes and 6 went to rescue for health issues leaving them unadoptable. The rest are kittens who cannot go to new homes until they are able to be spayed or neutered first. All of the animals released to the SPCA are held the required number of days, vet checked, spayed or neutered and must have a dog license before they can go home with anyone.
Joyce Harper a woman who runs a pet food pantry also teamed up with the SPCA and helped a number of families when the food trailer came for a visit this spring.
A building fund has been set up at Wright Patt Credit Union so that anyone who wishes to donate to the $35,000 goal can be assured that the money will only be used for that purpose. Krissi has a separate account that is used for donations for operations and grant funds for operations. It should be noted that Krissi is not taking a salary and has no paid workers, it is a one woman operation, 24/7. At press time the fund is sitting at $500 but the hope is that stories like this one will bring awareness of the need to the community and the animals will see that building open before the end of the summer months.
To help Krissi raise money for the building fund, her son took the idea of a donation to his employer at Hometown Express to donate $1 for every oil change in April. The employees successfully did 626 oil changes so the funds will help move the account up a notch.
Brandeberry Winery will host a Re-release party for Black Dog wine on May 27 with $2 per bottle sold going to the building fund. Small businesses are also being asked to donate coupons and services to a raffle basket that will grow throughout May and be raffled off at the end of the month.
Krissi is a very modest person. She looks for no recognition and hates being interviewed but does it for the dogs. Why do we need the SPCA you may wonder. Well, there is a different kind of need that is not being filled in our community and that is the need to find homes for the homeless and help the victims of abuse. Faith, found a new home this past weekend after one of the more heartbreaking stories. This gal was a stray that came to the attention of Krissi by a call letting her know that a dog was hanging around the Love’s truck stop out near the fairgrounds. After running for what was most likely weeks, Krissi finally got her picked up and taken home at the I-70 exit in Enon. How she got there is a mystery, but she was in rough shape. By the time she went to PetSmart to be adopted, she could come to have her leash put on, walked, sat, and healed on a lead. She also learned to shake hands. She went home with a young girl who will love her forever.
Another group of unlikely residents also came to Krissi recently. A woman had to give up 5 small dogs when her husband passed away and they joined two more that came to the SPCA for rehoming. One of those dogs was a year old Chihuahua mix named Stubby because he had no tail. His follow-up family photo came in on Sunday. This little dog had trust issues according to Krissi. His new home photo shows him sound asleep on a pink blanket next to his new friend who is a young girl with a seizure disorder. In 24 hours the bond had formed and there is no doubt he may be able to help her family alert to health changes as dogs often do bond that closely to their owners.
Krissi is determined to open the doors even if she has to do it one dollar a day to get to the $35,000 needed. If you would like to send a contribution to the building fund, drop your check in the mail to SPCA Building Fund, 21 Walter Street, Springfield, OH 45506. You can follow the progress on Facebook and we will be updating everyone as the months move into summer.
Special thanks to the publisher of the Enon Eagle and New Carlisle News for supporting the SPCA by running stories and helping to follow the progress of the building fund.