For little beagle Toby, Happy Tails was a blessing and a life saver.

It was July 2008 and the owner of a 1-year-old male beagle named Buddy had been hit by a car and required extensive reconstructive surgery on his leg. His owner couldn't pay for it and surrendered Buddy to Happy Tails No Kill Animal Shelter. Buddy had the surgery and went into recover with Happy Tails board member Carolyn Crow who kept his activity restricted.

"It was no easy task to keep a young energetic dog confined for two months," said Crow.

After three months, Crow found she couldn't part with him, adopted him and renamed him Toby, since there was already a dog named Buddy in the family.

Today, you would never know that Toby's leg had been injured. He loves to run and has become a great companion for Crow.

"From a dog who initially seemed to know nothing but hunting, he has changed to become very affectionate and sociable," said Crow. "He is a great companion and I love him dearly."

But what is this organization that Toby owes his life to?

Happy Tails No Kill Animal Shelter began its journey in 2004 when a group of animal lovers in Bradford County saw the need for a new kind of shelter in the area. They had a vision of a shelter where animals would live in a clean, happy environment and would be treated with dignity.

Their original plan was to aggressively seek homes for abandoned animals through all avenues available to them, as well as provide community education about the humane treatment of animals that would foster harmonious relationships.

In addition, their goals were to build a strong spay-neuter program and offer help in paying vet bills.

In their first year they were incorporated as a 501c (3) nonprofit corporation and bought a six acre parcel of land on Route 6 just west of Towanda. They began to research building design and visited many shelters to find exactly what would be best for their needs.

Over the years, Happy Tails has held countless fundraisers - from car washes to golf tournaments. They have been the recipient of grants from the Pierce Foundation, Walmart, and the Pedigree Foundation.

They have held educational programs in the schools, and offered lost cost rabies clinics, and no cost dog and cat identification tags.

They started a special medical reserve fund, called Moose's Fund, to help cover the cost of emergency medical care for people who could not otherwise afford it. Over the years they have helped many families get the medical help they needed to save the lives of their pets.

Happy Tails Rescue is an official "arm" of the organization. They are constantly helping people find new homes for strays and animals they could no longer keep, through foster programs.

"We have been fortunate to have dedicated workers that help find good homes for countless animals," said Karen Friedenberg, Happy Tails board president.

And it's not just board members who have been doing the work. There is quite a network of community who contact Friedenberg. Even the UPS driver keeps her eyes open for strays and knows to contact Happy Tails with the information.

As their funds slowly built up to match their needs, the building site plan for Happy Tails was developed by engineers and approved by the Bradford County planning commission. They then worked with an architect to fine tune and draw up plans. After a great deal of research, he designed a building that is both beautiful and functional. They chose Double Tree Structures to build phase one, the exterior of the building. The excavation of the site was accomplished by the goodwill of Bishop Brothers Construction who made that aspect of the process affordable.

"Phase one is nearly done," said Friedenberg. "And we will now prepare for phase two which is finishing the interior."

Their goal for phase two is to complete the plumbing and concrete floor. The floor is designed to have radiant heat.

Once the floor is complete they will be fundraising for the next step of completing the interior. They plan to have a communal cat room, 24 dog kennels, an intake isolation room, a treatment room, and a grooming area.

The dog area will be lit with natural light and designed to minimize noise. There will be a large outdoor exercise area.

The cats will have lots of perches and comfy beds. They can also enjoy the outdoors in a screened in area.

The current board of directors of Happy Tails is always looking for animal lovers with skills related to completing the shelter - people in the building trades, people with computer skills, fundraising skills, and people willing to occasionally foster an animal.

For more information call (570) 882 -9697 or (607) 742 -8061 or email happytails68@gmail.com.

"The most gratifying aspect of this project has been the support and enthusiasm we have received from so many people. We have been very grateful for their encouragement and their help," said Friedenberg. "As we move to our next phase we look forward to providing a safe place for animals from our entire region on their journey towards a better life."

And as for Toby? Now, at the age of six, he is the official Happy Tails mascot and loves every minute of his forever home!