Ohio Couple Opens a $4 Million Halfway House for Shelter Dogs

Most dogs that find themselves in rural Ohio animal shelters don’t make it out alive due to overcrowding, underfunding, the spread of disease and other unfortunate reasons. But now, thanks to the generosity of a local couple—George and Tina Skestos—the lives of thousands of dogs will be saved.

Gigi’s Shelter for Dogs just had its grand opening in Columbus. This nonprofit, state-of-the-art facility will take in dogs from rural shelters and provide them with medical care and a much less stressful environment in which they can decompress. The kennels are filled with natural light, the walls are insulated to muffle loud noises, and music is played to help soothe the dogs.

In conjunction with Columbus Humane, the shelter will “address common challenges animals face, namely dogs that become sick during time spent in a rural animal shelter,” according to its website. “Healthier animals are more likely to be quickly adopted into their forever homes.”

After staying at Gigi’s for a week or so, the dogs will be transferred to Columbus Humane and other city shelters where they’re much more likely to find loving forever homes. This new shelter is expected to save the lives of more than 1,200 dogs every year.

Gigi’s Shelter for Dogs would not have been possible without a $4 million donation from George and Tina Skestos. The two lifelong dog lovers raised these impressive funds with the help of family and friends.

“I started thinking I’m not going to be around forever and I want to do something for dogs,” George, who’s 91, told WCMH. “So we decided to do this.” He added that giving dogs a second chance through the shelter “is exciting. Keeping me young.”

The shelter is named in honor of Gigi, George’s Akita. Three years ago, he began working with Columbus Humane on the idea of a transitional animal shelter.

“There are a lot of dogs that are available in abundance and they are friendly and healthy and they just need a ride home,” Columbus Humane CEO Rachel Finney told WCHM in July. “Source shelters are working so hard with very limited resources to provide great care for dogs. They often don’t have the funding, physical space, supplies or equipment, or even the training to be able to deliver the best care.”

The three-acre shelter has about 40 kennels, individual dog runs and a large barn with grass turf in which the dogs can exercise. It will also provide rural shelters with medications to help prevent the spread of deadly and contagious diseases.

George and Tina hope to expand the programs at Gigi’s and open similar shelters in other states. Finney is certain those dreams will come true.

“If this works here and we know that it will, it will be replicated through the country and really change the way we shelter dogs,” she told WCHM. “Not only to save lives but to improve quality of life. It has to be a life worth living.”

Photo credit: Deb

88 comments

Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Greta L
Greta L5 months ago

thank you

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R5 months ago

thank you

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Mia B
Mia B5 months ago

Great. Thanks.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer5 months ago

4 million dollars --WOW!!!!

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Great news!

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Donna T
Donna T5 months ago

There ARE angels among us! Thank you so much.

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