Story by Beth Boardman, WNLP
In an action that could not be more deserved, the La Porte County Commission unanimously voted Wednesday night, June 16, 2021, to rename the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter as the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center.
Bernard, who retired in February of this year, was executive director of the shelter for more than 31 years. During that time she resurrected the La Porte-based site from an unkempt, unhealthy environment once accused of criminal activity, into a clean, thriving facility that invites community members to visit, adopt and contribute, hosts an animal care camp for kids, houses a veterinary surgery center, and more.
Commission President Richard Mrozinski introduced the move to rename the shelter Wednesday. Also a La Porte County Animal Control Board member, he said that board recently made the unanimous recommendation for the new name. He noted that work is already under way for a new Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center sign at the shelter on West Ind. 2.
“What an amazing job she did,” Mrozinski said at the commission meeting. “If you don’t think (this action) is worthy, then you ain’t been paying attention.”
Commissioner Sheila Matias promptly agreed. “I think we all would like to sponsor this motion,” she said. “(Jane) is a generous, kind and caring individual (to people and animals alike). If you’ve spent five minutes of time with Jane Bernard, it was time well spent.”
Commissioner Joe Haney also chimed in: “I don’t think anyone would be disagreeable with this motion.”
WNLP reached Jane shortly after the commission’s action. “I’m floored. I’m just totally honored. Never in a million years did I think the shelter would be named after me,” she said. Bernard said Mrozinski had informed her of the animal control board’s wishes, but was not aware the commission would act so swiftly.
She said besides the surprise, one other thing struck her as unusual: “Doesn’t this usually happen after people die?”
Happily, not in this case, especially since Bernard remains active at the shelter as a volunteer, doing necessary mundane tasks and providing guidance to new Executive Director Eric Hayes when he seeks it.
The best part of being a volunteer now? “There is not one ounce of stress.”
The director’s role comes with moments of happy adoptions but also tragic cases of animal abuse, often undeserved criticism from the public, emergencies at all hours and more.
Jane was quick to say she did not revive the shelter on her own:
“How blessed I am! I really am not worthy as it was not me alone who made our shelter great. I had an amazing support system behind me and that is why our shelter is one of the very best in the area.
“I had an awesome career working for La Porte County, helping countless animals in our community. To be honored like this is overwhelming. My heart is full.”
An official date for the shelter rededication has not yet been set.
To read more about Jane and her career at the shelter, click this link to WNLP’s story on her retirement: After leading revival of the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter, Jane Bernard to retire after 31 years | What’s New LaPorte?