Press Release


February 8, 2013


Contact: Kerry Pettit 
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(330) 539-5300

Animal Welfare League Names New Board President


AWL parks offer service, help animals

Trumbull County Animal Welfare League Bark Parks offer service, help animals in need

Published: 11/3/14 @ 12:00 By Jeanne Starmack

Vienna Frisbee Field was empty Friday afternoon, an expanse of fenced green grass stretching out under the gray, gloomy sky. Cinnamon and Harley stood at the edge, waiting, tails wagging, until two clicks, two slack leashes and they were free — stretching their legs over and over around the biggest of the Trumbull County Animal Welfare League’s three Bark Parks as a group of handlers watched with amusement. It was chilly. Dogs don’t care. The grass was wet. So what, so were their noses. The two shelter dogs, usually inside in their pens along with many others, were having a special treat, said Kerry Pettit, director of the shelter at 812 Youngstown Kingsville Road in Vienna. They were chosen to show off the AWL’s membership-access Bark Parks, which debuted in June on the shelter’s property across the highway from the Squaw Creek Country Club. Cinnamon, a 6-year-old boxer mix who came to the shelter two months ago with a litter of puppies, needs her own home now that her pups are all adopted, Pettit said. She stalked and pounced on Harley, a 1-year-old boxer-pitbull mix, who thought she was great. Harley has been through AWL’s prison training program, meaning he’s gotten extra training by living with an inmate for 10 weeks. He’s also housebroken and crate-trained. Neither Harley nor Cinnamon would be demonstrating the park next to Frisbee Field — the Lil Pup Play Park. They both tip the scales past the 25-pound weight restriction. No one was at the Lil Pup on Friday, and the weather the likely reason why. But across a pond that is next to the two parks and will soon have a dock for dogs who like to swim, Terry Taylor of Howland and her golden retriever Tia were making use of the third park. It’s called the Pupp Pupp. An old Putt Putt miniature golf course, it has hills and tunnels. “We get out here at least once a week,” said Taylor. She threw a ball. Tia ignored it and walked the other way. “She’s a retriever that doesn’t retrieve,” Taylor said. “That’s what we work on out here.” “You’ll get a cookie if you bring the ball back,” Taylor told the dog. “Go get it.” Tia chased it, overran it, and gave up. “She has a yard to run in, but she doesn’t,” said Taylor. “So here, she does. That’s good exercise.” Pettit said that not only are the Bark Parks a safe place for play and exercise, but members are supporting animals at the shelter who need medical help. The $240 annual membership benefits shelter animals 100 percent, she said. That includes heartworm treatments “to get those animals adopted,” she said, and after-hours emergency services with the police in the county. Membership is for the calendar year. Potential members must fill out an application. Members also have to show proof their dogs are current on vaccines. “So that sets us apart from public parks, she said. “We aren’t putting each animal at risk.” “Really,” she added, “Your membership is paying to help an animal. You could be helping to save a life.”

Busko sisters honored for years of service

Warren, OH– In a meeting held February 7th, the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County (AWL) announced a new board president, Dr. Jeff Williams. At the same meeting, former board president, Barbara Busko and former secretary Mary Busko, were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their 40 years of tireless dedication and work on behalf of AWL. Both women will remain on the board with emeritus status.

The new board president, Dr. Jeff Williams, is a veterinarian and owner of Countryside Veterinary Service, Inc. In accepting his new position, Dr. Williams stated, “The first order of business for me and the board is to extend our deepest gratitude to Barb and Mary Busko for their life of dedication and vision for care of the stray, abandoned, and abused animals of Trumbull County.”

Williams pointed out that the sisters’ long-time vision of a new shelter is coming to light as the AWL has recently broken ground for a new 47,000 sq. ft. facility in Vienna. The new facility, described as a first of its kind in the country, is projected to open in September of 2013.

According to Williams, with the new shelter underway, the AWL is now collaborating with the Trumbull County Commissioners and Dog Warden to house the Dog Pound at the new facility. Having both groups in one common location will make it easier for area residents to know where to take a found pet, and where to look for a lost pet.
Additionally, Kent State University will use the new facility as a teaching center for their Veterinary Technician Program. Students will receive hands-on training and shelter animals will receive health care, socialization and increased adoption potential.
“This will be a shelter that revolutionizes the way of caring for animals in our community.” said Williams. “I am inspired and honored to be a part of this organization.”

About AWL
The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County is a non-profit humane organization dedicated to protecting the rights of unwanted, neglected, abandoned, and abused animals to live without pain and suffering. Founded in 1969, the Animal Welfare League has evolved into one of Ohio’s foremost shelters, leading the way in direct animal care, community outreach and education, animal advocacy, and fighting animal cruelty at every level. To learn more, please visit or call 330-394-3512.

Pettit Named AWL Executive Director

Kerry Pettit(Warren, OH) - Kerry S. Pettit was recently named executive director for the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County (AWL), according to Board President Dr. Jeff Williams.

Pettit comes to the AWL with 24 years of experience working in the animal field. A native of the Mahoning Valley, Pettit most recently served as animal control operations supervisor for the City of Henderson Police Dept., Henderson, Nev., where she supervised its daily operations and was responsible for animal adoptions and redemptions. Prior to that, she served as an animal control officer within the same department.

“Kerry brings such great strengths to this position and the Animal Welfare League,” said Williams. “Her background, knowledge and experience are invaluable as we enter into the next stage of opening the new shelter.”

Previously, Pettit worked in various positions including an animal handler for Lion Photo Studios in Las Vegas, where she cared, fed and handled African lions and cubs. She formerly worked as a water quality diver/education narrator for Sea World of Ohio, maintaining marine mammal habitats and exhibits and assisted with the animal care and training staff. Pettit also was the animal trainer for Joel Slaven’s Professional Animals in St. Cloud, Fla., where she trained domestic animals and performed in shows with them at both Sea World Ohio and Florida parks.

Pettit holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Youngstown State University and has completed the Nevada Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (POST) first line supervisor program. She was instrumental in rewriting the City of Henderson, Nevada’s municipal code, which addressed issues such as mandatory spay/neuter laws, defining shelter/housing needs for animals kept outdoors and permits required to run animal-related businesses. She has also received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Henderson Police Dept.

In addition, Pettit served as a committee member tasked to develop the Clark’s County Southern Nevada Region’s emergency disaster plan in compliance with the Federal PETS Act. As one of the first areas in the U.S. to develop such a plan, it now serves as an example for other cities.

“I’m so excited about being a part of the new shelter,” Pettit said. “My priorities are to let the public know about what we offer at the shelter, update our policies and procedures, and provide the best care for our animals, while educating the public about their care. I also would like to start a ‘Bite Prevention’ program. I look forward to working with other rescue groups as it is a “win-win” proposition in building better relationships.”

About AWL

The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County is a non-profit humane organization dedicated to protecting the rights of unwanted, neglected, abandoned, and abused animals to live without pain and suffering. Founded in 1969, the Animal Welfare League has evolved into one of Ohio’s foremost shelters, leading the way in direct animal care, community outreach and education, animal advocacy, and fighting animal cruelty at every level. To learn more, please visit or call (330) 539-5300.

Humane Sanctuary Seizure

On February 12, 2010, The Animal Welfare League rescued 162 dogs, 18 cats, 14 chickens, 5 ducks and 2 horses from a 'No Kill Rescue' in Kinsman, called the 'Humane Sanctuary'. All of these animals were living in deplorable, unsanitary conditions and were in various stages of malnourishment as well as untreated health conditions.

On March 11, 2010, Kathy Witzman, the owner and operator of the 'Sanctuary' was found guilty of a second degree misdemeanor of animal cruelty after a plea agreement was reached by Assistant Prosecutor, Sean O'Brien and Witzman's Attorney, Tim Hart of Kent.

She was sentenced as follows:

  • 5 years reporting probation
  • 5 years (the maximum under law) she cannot possess or harbor any animals
  • $750 fine with $600 suspended
  • NO Jail Time
  • Must have psychiatric evaluation
  • Restitution of $2500 to AWL payable over 5 years

We feel it is important to release the photos so that everyone can see the living conditions that these animals had to suffer through and why Detective Firster of the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department and AWL had to take action on February 12th. Someone wrote on our Humane Sancuary Facebook page that this was the 'Haven of Death' Click Here to go to see more on our dedicated Facebook Page to this matter.


Feel Free to click to enlarge photos

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