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COLUMBIANA CO. Group's time to save sanctuary is waning

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

The fate of nearly 25 wolves depends on a fund-raising effort's success.
LISBON -- Time is running out for a group trying to save a hybrid wolf sanctuary.
At a Sept. 4 sheriff's sale, the Youngstown-based Richard E. Flauto Wildlife Foundation produced the 10 percent down payment needed to buy the 80 acres on which the sanctuary sits.
The group has about two weeks left to produce the balance of the $161,100 purchase price.
Kenny Biacco, a deputy sheriff who runs county sheriff's sales, said Tuesday he has yet to hear from the group, which must give him the balance, nearly $145,000.
Biacco said he is giving the group until Oct. 22 to come up with the money.
But if he hasn't heard something by then, the foundation could be summoned to appear in court to explain why it hasn't produced the money.
Down payment lost: The group could lose some or all of its down payment, and the property could go back on the auction block, Biacco explained.
"I wish them a lot of luck," he said. "But that's a lot of money" to have to come up with in a relatively short time, he added.
A foundation spokesman was unavailable Tuesday.
After the sale, Christine Roddy of Boardman, foundation secretary, said the group would try to raise the $145,000 through fund-raisers and pleas over its Web site,
If the group can't raise the entire $145,000, it's hopeful it can come up with enough to get a loan to buy the property and pay it off with donations, Roddy explained at the time.
Sanctuary's history: The sanctuary was founded in 1997 by Richard Flauto of Boardman, who created the facility amid remote Columbiana County hills.
Flauto died of a heart ailment in 1999 before he could pay off the debt on the property, resulting in its being placed in the sheriff's sale.
The nonprofit foundation bearing his name has continued to run the sanctuary, relying on donations and volunteer labor.
Nearly 25 hybrid wolves live in 14 acres of fenced enclosures on the sanctuary property.
The animals have been bred from gray wolves and various dog breeds. Their wild nature makes them unsuitable as pets. Should the sanctuary be lost, it's unclear what the animals' fate would be.
The foundation's mailing address is Richard E. Flauto Wildlife Foundation, P.O. Box 9542, Youngstown, OH 44513. Roddy can be reached at (330) 629-8281.