WHEATFIELD, N.Y. — In 2019, Polla Milligan decided to use her knowledge about dogs and charity work to start White Whiskers Senior Dog Sanctuary.
"I used to work for the SPCA in Niagara County, and a lot of old dogs come in and don't often adopt them," Milligan said.
White Whiskers has been working with shelters around our region since then to get those senior dogs into good homes.
However, now the nonprofit has bought the home on 6673 Nash Road, which sits on a more than five-acre lot in Wheatfield, to not just provide a true sanctuary for older dogs but to eventually serve the community as well.
"I want to work with veterans, I want to work with kids with autism, I want to work with the disabled," Milligan said. "I just want to make sure we're helping humans as well. ... Dogs are incredibly therapeutic."
The sanctuary would be a home for up to 25 dogs, if the Town of Wheatfield approves it. White Whiskers has already had more than 750 volunteers sign up and Western New Yorkers have helped to raise more than $400,000 for the charity.
Yet neighbors near the area say as great as an idea that the sanctuary is, they aren't thrilled about the location.
One of them told 2 On Your Side that he's concerned about it getting noisier in the neighborhood and property values going down because of it. He's also concerned about the dogs attracting coyotes.
Milligan hopes she can convince neighbors Wednesday night that she has a plan.
"I want us all to get along. I want them to be able come communicate with me if they have a concern, if they have a problem. Plus I'm going to be living here. so there will not be dogs running freely. Everything is going to be fenced in, there will not be dogs barking endlessly because as soon as that starts to happen, I will grab that dog and bring them inside," she said.
She says there will also be a security system installed, and the community will be able to adopt the dogs they fall in love with.
White Whiskers won't even start renovations until getting the town's approval. In the meantime, Milligan says she will listen to neighbors on Wednesday night and just hope for the best.
"I have to think that good will prevail," she said. "I don't want to have to sell this place because we can't do what we want to do. That would be tragic."
The meeting started at 6 p.m. over at the Town of Wheatfield Municipal Building on 2800 Church Road in North Tonawanda.