Alchemy Acres finds its dream home

Morning Journal/Mary Ann Greier
Volunteers and managers of the Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary take a look at the view from the courtyard of the stone structure they plan to use for educational programs and events.

Morning Journal/Mary Ann Greier Volunteers and managers of the Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary take a look at the view from the courtyard of the stone structure they plan to use for educational programs and events.

ROGERS — The Sacco family of Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary dreamed of a large, peaceful plot of land where they and their volunteers could shelter animals with care and compassion, rehabilitate injured wildlife and provide services and educational programs, all with the community in mind.

On Tuesday night, they celebrated getting the keys to their castle — a stone structure built in 1933 by a man named Adams. The purchase includes 10 acres off Adams Road north of Rogers, with an opportunity to acquire 177 more acres from the property owner.

“We’ve always wanted something like this since the beginning — it’s what we envisioned,” Katie Sacco said.

Her mom, Julie, related how they started out with six dogs when the non-profit started operating in 2004. The numbers and the types of animals they housed continued to grow, with up to 130 dogs and 120 cats now in their care, along with smaller animals of various species.

Steve Sacco, Julie’s husband and dad to Katie and her sister Emily, explained that they’ve outgrown their facilities along Depot Road, which are bordered by three roads and close to residential homes and the city, with the noise of cars and trucks and sirens from ambulances, fire trucks or police cruisers.

“The animals need peace and quiet,” he said.

With help from donations and money raised through Alchemy’s many fundraisers, the animals will have a comfortable, stable environment where they can live and play while awaiting adoption or to spend the rest of their lives in some cases. Julie saw the home and property advertised online a few months ago and they just received the keys this week. They’ll be working to raise the funds to purchase the remaining acreage.

“With a nicer facility, we’re hoping to spur more adoptions,” Katie said.

Plans call for keeping the castle preserved with furnishings from the 1930s era and use it as a educational/event center they hope to open in spring 2018. The home will be used for educational programs and house small mammals, reptiles and birds in separate rooms for families or school children to visit, along with being rented out for events for photos, wedding receptions, graduations or other parties. The idea is to make it a cool destination for field trips where they can teach children about domestic animals, wildlife and even plant life with nature trails.

Dogs will have individual indoor/outdoor runs from a separate dog building and a fenced outdoor play area and agility area. There will also be buildings for cats and wildlife, barns for farm animals and pasture space, a pavilion, a building to house the office, adoption center and a pet store. a veterinary clinic, a donation dropoff center, intern housing and an already existing stone barn for maintenance and hay storage.

According to a letter highlighting the project, the four primary goals include: providing proper shelter catering to every need of the animals; creating a wildlife rehabilitation center needed to serve Columbiana County and five surrounding counties; offering an educational environment where children and adults can learn about animals through nature walks, educational programming and internships; and providing quality veterinary care with a clinic on the premises that can also serve the public with low-cost veterinary services. The idea would be to grow the clinic to offer full-time services to the surrounding communities and low-cost spaying and neutering.

“That’s going to be a huge asset to our community,” Katie said, adding that their goal is to help the community and help tackle the problem of pet overpopulation.

“This means absolutely everything to us. When these animals come in and you look in their eyes, they need help,” Julie said.

Both Katie and Emily are certified as native Ohio wildlife rehabilitators, meaning they can take in native wildlife that may be injured and rehabilitate them, such as the Eastern box turtle recently brought to the sanctuary. They’re also working on getting trained to handle migratory bird species and endangered species.

For now, Alchemy Acres will continue to operate at the Depot Road site while preparing the new site, with a goal of moving everything by 2019 or 2020.

When asked if they thought the move might reduce adoptions due to the location, both Katie and Steve said people don’t seem to have a problem finding them, with animals adopted out to people in 24 states. The facility helps over 2,000 animals annually.

Two fundraisers are coming up, one at Bob Evans in Salem on Oct. 4 and the semi-annual spaghetti dinner at the Salem Eagles on Nov. 5. Donations for Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary can be sent to the facility at 1859 Depot Road, Salem, Ohio 44460.

The Sacco family also intends to privately purchase a portion of the property for their personal home, so they can closely oversee the construction and expansion of Alchemy Acres at the new site, according to the letter.

To learn more about the animal sanctuary, visit www.alchemyacres.org.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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