BY JOHN J. HOPKINS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Six months after a devastating fire, the Lakeview Animal Sanctuary is getting back on its feet, and a group of dedicated volunteers is making sure that Sandi Pfohl’s rescued creatures have a place to stay.
Dozens of animals were lost in the Sept. 11, 2012 blaze, but a new barn is rising from the ashes. Newfane-based Parco Building Systems erected the structure, but the interior required finishing.
Lockport resident Kenny Allore, along with Bob Graczyk of Pendleton and Robert Mergenhagen of Clarence, were at the sanctuary Friday afternoon, working to complete individual stalls and begin work on the office area. Allore said there was “a pretty big work party” in the building during the morning.
“But they had to get to work,” Allore explained, adding there has been about eight colleagues who donate part of their Fridays to working at the sanctuary. “It’s been every Friday for about a month ... we’ll be here every Friday until it’s done.”
According to Allore, the volunteers work as long as their schedule permits on Friday mornings before they all head off to work.
The group’s members all work with Pfohl’s daughter, Terry Thom, and they all wanted to help Sandi after the fire, Allore said. Graczyk — a member of the Niagara County Rotary — also wanted to help because Pfohl’s done so much for the area, he said.
“I’ve known her for a while,” Graczyk said. “She brings the petting zoo to Olde Sanborn Days every year.”
Allore, whose wife is a veterinarian technician, noted too that the animal welfare community is tight-knit, and they tend to rally when someone from within needs help.
“There’s still a need to be filled,” he added. “This is the slow season (for donations). There’s not a lot of cash coming in but there’s work and the animals have to eat.”
The sound of an electric saw slicing through Amish-provided wood caught the attention of the donkeys, goats, sheep and llamas residing in the new structure; the animals all craned their necks to get a look at the goings-on inside their new home.
“It’s coming along,” said Pfohl. “The back walls are insulated and there are gaps between the slats separating the stalls so (the animals) can see their buddies.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done. A concrete floor will be poured in the section of the barn that will serve as the office and grain room. Feeding baskets will be added to every stall so that hay stored in the loft can be dropped directly into each stall.
Peter Marko, sanctuary manager, praised the volunteers for their work and dedication. He said their efforts expedited work and allowed the sanctuary to move some animals back inside, where they’re more comfortable and no longer exposed to the weather.
“We wouldn;t be anywhere near as far along as we are,” Marko said. “They’ve done so much; giving their spare time while still working at their jobs.”
Pfohl said a grand opening is planned for June 9. The hours haven’t been set, but the event will be open to the public, and Pfohl said the firefighters who responded to the blaze and the volunteers will be thanked for their work.HAPPY BIRTHDAY! The Lakeview Animal Sanctuary will celebrate Thomas T. Butterball's birthday every Saturday in April. Sanctuary owner Sandi Pfohl said the turkey was born "sometime in April," but his exact birthday isn't known. Therefore, it's celebrated throughout the month. Birthday celebrations will be held: • April 6 at All Creatures Animal Hospital, 6429 Transit Road, Amherst, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. • April 13 at Hill Side Bar & Grille, 6606 Ridge Road, Newfane, 1-3 p.m. • April 20 at Pets Plus, 421 West Ave., Lockport, 1-3 p.m. • April 27 at Tractor Supply Company, 6015 South Transit Road, Lockport, 1-3 p.m.