January 27, 2016 - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry today presented Belinda Lewis with a “Key to the Fort” award at a special ceremony at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control on Hillegas Road.

Family, friends, and community supporters attended today’s event.

Lewis is retiring from her position as director of Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control effective at the end of this month.

The Key to the Fort goes to individuals who’ve made an extraordinary commitment to the community through a lifetime of stewardship and involvement.

The Key is a hand forged replica of the iron key that was at the Fort in the days of Anthony Wayne, circa 1790. The original key is at the History Center. The key, with its highly unusual tumbler structure, came to the History Center from an early 20th Century donation from the family of Mayor Franklin Randall, who was Fort Wayne’s mayor during the Civil War.

“Belinda is very deserving of this prestigious honor,” said Mayor Henry. “We appreciate and value Belinda’s years of service and dedication to improving the lives of animals and educating the community about the importance of caring for animals. She’s a true professional and we wish her a great retirement.”

Lewis is just the fourth Fort Wayne resident to receive a Key to the Fort from Mayor Henry. The other recipients were the late Charles Redd, a former City Council member and community activist, the late Jane Avery of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, and Bob Chase, legendary Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster and WOWO personality. 

About Belinda Lewis:
Lewis has served as director of Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control for 28 years. She is a nationally-recognized leader and expert in the animal care profession.

Initiatives that have occurred under Lewis’ leadership include:
Differential pet registrations ($100 for unaltered animals/$5 for spayed or neutered) to encourage the public to do the right thing for animals. 

Microchipping - Any pet being returned to its owner from our shelter receives a microchip for positive owner identification should the pet become lost again.

She professionalized the department’s law enforcement division. In 2012, the Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control Commission awarded commendation medals to officers for their dedication to duty and exemplifying the high standards of the Animal Care & Control Department.

She led the effort to expand services by getting the funding to build a new state-of-the-art shelter. In doing so, visitors to the adoption facility increased by 239 percent.

In 2000, Animal Care & Control unveiled a plan to revamp the way adoptions were handled without using tax dollars. The plan also expanded programming by hiring the first full-time professional volunteer coordinator, which today oversees more than 200 active volunteers.