My shelter is closing... (Long!)

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My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:51 pm

I’m really stressing right now. Just got the news today that the shelter is on the brink of closing. Yes, we’ve had this discussion before and the shelter did close temporarily last year for three months. The talk this time if about it being for good. The director said she hopes that all of us will stick it out and see what happens because we’ve got a few options. Decrease staff and jeopardize the care of the animals? That won’t and cannot happen. The animals are our number one priority. The boards comeback, euthanize all animals who have been at the shelter for six months or longer. NO WAY! We can’t do that. It’s not fair. Most of the animals in that category are the ones we’ve known since they were puppies and kittens.

The board has it easy and they are worthless. Their main purpose is to come up with fundraising and from what I understand, they’ve basically been doing nothing. Our bank account is on 0. I’ve been at the shelter for going on two years now and I’ve meet three, maybe four of the board members total. They never come out to the shelter. Yeah, it’s easy to sit back and say put them down. They don’t know the animals personally. It really pisses me off that they can’t get off their ass and at least volunteer two hours max a week. That’s eight hours a month. That could cut back on paying staff a little bit. The director has come up with the idea to have the board lay her off and use her salary to pay the rest of the employees. She was crying during this entire meeting and I don’t blame her. For the past year she’s basically run the shelter on her own. She’s paid bills for the shelter out of her own pocket and she doesn’t have to do that. She’s done a great job keeping this all a secret as none of the staff, who care and actually do stuff, had a clue. She told us that we’d get our checks late this week and after that.... she didn’t know if we’d be able to get paid. Most of us have families and live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t know how long we can last. One staff member has already found a job and we just go the news today. So, now we’re a man down. I can honestly say that I’m a bit jealous of her because my friend has wanted me to quit the shelter for a while now to work where my co-worker got a job today. I can’t quit on the shelter now. For the last almost two years my life has revolved around this place. I’ve literally lived and breathed this place. Almost all my waking thoughts have revolved around this place. If I lose my job at the shelter where will I go from there?

Forget about me! What about the animals? What will happen to them? Other shelters won’t take them because we’re all basically in the same boat. Everest, Madonna, Snowflake, Hazel, Rudolph, Midnight, Daisy, Nigel, Haley, Po, and Dispy! All of them have been there for over a year and in some of their cases, two years. They’d be the first on the euth list. Some of them are really shy, that’s the reason they’ve not found homes. Two of the dogs are dog aggressive but for some reason love each other. One of the dogs is a fence jumper... that’s her problem.

We’re being proactive and now most of our cats are free to the right home. They still have to fill out an application and contract etc. We don’t make any money off of adoptions anyway. The dogs’ fees are negotiable. If the right home comes about, yeah, we’d give them away for free too. Anything to not have to put them down. We’re a “no-kill” shelter but we will euthanize for several reasons and one of them is NOT space. Several of the staff have commented that “oh, if they say to put the animals down, I’m taking So-and-so home.” That’s all fine and good but before you know, you’re going to be on Hoarders. I have four cats and three dogs and I’m not sure I could manage many more on my own.

This makes me so mad! Something should have been done about this long ago. Not after it’s too late. It takes about $9000 a month to run the place and that’s the bare minimum that we could get by on. All food and litter is donated so that’s just bills. We’re a tiny facility. We only have 26 dog kennels and 18 cat cages but we usually have more animals than that. It’s just freaking ridiculous.

Uuuugggghhhh!!! Okay, my rant is over now. I’m not going to go asking for donations because I don’t know how good they’ll do at this point but you never know. It could help find one more dog or cat a home. Please send positive thoughts. I feel so sick right now.

If you're interested in seeing the dogs and cats and bunnies available at the shelter, please check out our website and and look at their Petfinder pages. I'm not opposed to delivering animals to their new homes. I'll drive them where they need to go if it's a good match.
www.hspcanimals.org

There are a few pit bulls and mixes there now. Hazel (mix), Shiloh, Cion, and Crimson. All are amazing dogs... Hazel is just crazy though (in a good way). She basically just doesn't have any manners. She's been at the shelter the longest of all our dogs. Her intake date is 3-16-10. She was adopted two times and returned but they really weren't her fault. The first time she went to an elderly lady who really couldn't handle her. The second time her adopter was just careless and allowed her to kill their rabbit.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Red » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:24 pm

So sorry to hear that, please rant away. It is clear that you have invested a lot of time and emotions into those animals and this gotta be very hard on you, not just financially. Same for your director.I know I could not work at a shelter (been there done that) so I admire you.
I don't know what to suggest that can work immediately, because money just don't fall from the sky but...what have you all done to reach the public? Is contacting the news an option you have not looked into? Have local stores and businesses been contacted for a monthly donation? Are there fliers about the shelter situation all over the place? Dog clubs, any around? Local pet stores? Schools? Shelter staff come in with a few dogs to interact with children and send fliers home? Just silly ideas but you never know what comes out of things like these.If the board is useless you guys might have to do the work, as much as you can anyway, and then start thinking about ways to change the board.

We’re being proactive and now most of our cats are free to the right home. They still have to fill out an application and contract etc. We don’t make any money off of adoptions anyway. The dogs’ fees are negotiable. If the right home comes about, yeah, we’d give them away for free too. Anything to not have to put them down.


Keep in mind that there are situations in which an animal is better off being put down then continue to come back to the system.Hazel...she never went to the right home, and I think that the shelters has to start thinking about why.If nobody can work on this "crazy" dog and the homes are not screened hard then another solution has to be considered. I hate the though of even killing a dog , so please don't think that I don't understand what you all try to do, but I know that a shelter is no place for an animal.Unless you have one of those fancy facility with behaviorists on sight, plenty of donations and just one of those dream place (not many of them). OT, just wanted to throw that in.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:17 pm

I totally agree with you about certain animals are better off being put down. I just don't know if Hazel would be one of those cases. She's a very happy dog. Her just doesn't have manners and knows next to nothing. There's a lot of work to be done at the shelter and just not enough people to give the special animals one-on-one time. One of the previous board members was a trainer, or is it a current board member? See, I just don't know them. Anyway, he worked with her for a while last year but gave up. Some trainer he is... Since then, she's not really had anyone work with her. :( I just don't know.

An Indianapolis station (Fox 59) has agreed to do a story on shelters that are closing. They said they'd be sending a reporter soon. The local paper helps out too but obviously not enough. There is no quick fix. I know that. We all do. We try to do as much public outreach as we can.

You know when you go through the drive thru or at the gas station and the people ask, "would you like to donate a dollar to help sick kids today?" We thought about asking local companies if they could help us out that way. It probably wouldn't make much but come on! Or, donate a dollar and we'll put a paw up on the wall with your name on it. Something like that. We're thinking and the board didn't help us once. Blah. Today was officially, I Hate People Day.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Red » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:09 am

Zagari wrote:You know when you go through the drive thru or at the gas station and the people ask, "would you like to donate a dollar to help sick kids today?" We thought about asking local companies if they could help us out that way.


Sure, why not? Add some pictures of the animals in need of help (pictures speak louder than words) and a short explanation of why donations are needed. Try to find a office store supplies who can print a large number of pictures for a reasonable amount of money, and have a picture of an animal available for the people who donate. A message under the picture, that says "this is who you helped today", can have an impact.Do you have a local Petsmart that you can contact? The ones here do have donation boxes for rescue dogs often.

I totally agree with you about certain animals are better off being put down. I just don't know if Hazel would be one of those cases. She's a very happy dog. Her just doesn't have manners and knows next to nothing. There's a lot of work to be done at the shelter and just not enough people to give the special animals one-on-one time.


I know, lack of resources and staff is always an issue.So many dogs just need some work to be more easily adoptable but the problem is when that work needed is not available, for one reason or the other.If there is a trainer on the board you guys need to find out and push for help. Why being on a shelter board if no help is given?
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby pacopoe » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:39 am

Ugh, what an awful situation!

There are some good ideas here already. One thing you could do immediately is start a chipin that could be passed around different social media. That might be able to buy you some time while other options are explored. It's hard because you could do a dozen fundraisers but it's really up to the board to find long term financial solutions.

Hang in there, don't give up!
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby ilovetyson » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:33 am

Im sorry you are going through all this.. :( I think there has been a lot of good suggestions!

I checked out the website, and OMG at all the cuteness! I Love me Some Gordie! What a gorgeous dog! <3
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:29 pm

Thanks guys.

Gordie is a fantastic dog! He had a Great Pyrenees friend called Big Mac who got adopted at the beginning of this month. After Mac left, Gordie kind of went down hill. He started puking blood and losing lots of hair!! They were best friends and he was really stressing out. Gordie has new friends now. Cleo the white shepherd mix and my sweet Baby Girl. :) She has a whole story of her own that I could write about for days... Let's just say I have a thing for "aggressive" animals.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby buckaroo » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:18 am

What are your biggest sources of income at the shelter? What percentage of your staff is paid? Have you spoken directly to your treasurer about funding shortfalls? What did he/she have to say? If not, go talk to your treasurer.

Your volunteers/staff should be spending at least 60% of their time fundraising. Since you have paid staff, I'd increase that to 80%. How much time fundraising do you do now? If it's a lot less then it's not likely you'll make it. There are tons of grants out there that you can get and tons of ways to raise funds. You should be able to do 10 grand a month pretty easily if you get out there and work. Sounds like you may need to redesign some of your work structure though to make sure staff has time to do more fundraising instead of animal care.

How is your organization's credit?
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:41 am

I honestly don't know much because I'm not in charge of anything. The director is involved in a lot and I know she's tried many things. When the previous treasurer left, we literally had nothing in the bank. They reopened the shetler with only about three months worth of funds and for the two years since then, we've been struggling.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby merriterrier » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:59 am

:hug: :hug:

My shelter was in the same situation. Only I am on the other side: the Board. (though I did work at the shelter for 3yrs).

Our issue was poor leadership, and personality issues that prevented the Board from getting anything important done.

There are many things that can be done, but it is going to have to happen on the Board level. Your director offering up her salary is nice, but it is only holding back the flood temporarily.
Here are a few things off the top of my head:

Some foundations offer emergency operating loans for non-profits.
Write a letter to the paper describing what the shelter does for animals and the community and how you need help.
Apply for grants, grants, and more grants
Public service announcements on the radio are great free advertising
Find a larger donor or corporate donor who would be willing to match donations up to $_____
If you are open admission increase your relinquishment fee. Many places in my area are charging $100 - $150 for owner relinquished animals; people scoff, but many will pay.

Your Board needs to be spending the vast majority of their time fundraising and grant writing. I'm not clear on the role of the staff at your shelter, but here they are only able to run the shelter. We could not ask them to fund raise without effecting the care of the animals.

I don't know what your facilities are like, or what your volunteer situation is, but $9,000/mo is pretty high. Maybe you are providing a lot of services? Or have many employees? What is your vet situation? We operate at capacity for 25 dogs and 15 cats (though we sometimes run over) the bare min we need to keep our doors open is $2,300/mo and we purchase our own food. We employ 2 people, myself and another board member serve as unpaid directors, we have about 20 regular volunteers plus community service, and a program with community corrections. Through our volunteer and community service programs we have enough people to clean, exercise and provide basic OB to our dogs. We have a vet who does Pro Bono work for us.

Maybe your board needs to look at the problem creatively, and figure out ways in which to cut costs not services. (unless you are offering a lot of extra services, then maybe they need to reevaluate their services).

Good Luck!
Hope I didn't confuse you with my long winded blathering :)
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:18 pm

Today was pick-your-own-adoption-fee for cats day. It was a huge success! There were 11 cat adoptions today! Whooo hoooo!! There were also four dogs adoptions!!

The shelter is now only open two days a week to the public, Tues and Sat. Things are going well and there are several big fundraisers in the works. Here's hoping for more and more success!

Here's the story that came out in the paper. The cat pictured is "Stark."
http://www.bannergraphic.com/story/1758451.html
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Red » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:27 am

Zagari wrote:Today was pick-your-own-adoption-fee for cats day. It was a huge success! There were 11 cat adoptions today! Whooo hoooo!! There were also four dogs adoptions!!


Without home checks and appropriate screening these adoptions are not always a success, unfortunately.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby Zagari » Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:45 am

While we don't do home checks, and from my understanding, most shelters don't, they do have to be approved to adopt. They have to fill out an adoption application and then have an interview. It's not like we're going to give our animals to the first person with money. We care more for our animals than that. We do our best.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby buckaroo » Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:59 am

Red wrote:
Zagari wrote:Today was pick-your-own-adoption-fee for cats day. It was a huge success! There were 11 cat adoptions today! Whooo hoooo!! There were also four dogs adoptions!!


Without home checks and appropriate screening these adoptions are not always a success, unfortunately.

Home checks for cats is not the standard of care in rescue mostly due to cats not needing to go outside. The average standard of care is address/landlord/vet checks. It's easy enough to verify that someone does indeed live where they say they live, whether or not they own or rent and whether or not current pets are receiving vet care.

Cat over population is a lot worse than dog overpopulation. Frankly, in rescue you can be more picky with dogs, especially puppies. More people see the value in getting a dog from a rescue and dogs seem to have some amout of worth in our society, even pit bulls. Cats are truly worthless. If dogs die by the hundreds, cats die by the thousands or even tens of thousands.

While you certainly can stand your ground and go as far as possible with home checks and extremely thorough screening, the fact remains that as long as you take past adoptions back, you can save a lot more cats by trusting that the person willing to actually apply, wait for standard screening and pay money for a cat is most of the time a decent home. People coming to my house to meet a cat or kitten will drive by 3 other houses with "free kittens" signs out front.
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Re: My shelter is closing... (Long!)

Postby heartbullies » Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:41 pm

For what it's worth, whenever we have had special adoption events or free adoptions at the five shelters I have worked with over the years, people still have to pass the same screening as usual. It's very basic-- LL approval or home ownership, an application, demonstrated ability and skill to handle whatever animal they are adopting. Shelter screening, of both animals and adopters, is always way less thorough than I like to see private rescues or limited-intake shelters do, mostly because otherwise we probably would have dogs for months, which is impossible if there are only so many kennels and new animals coming in daily.

Most adoptions seem to work out okay, actually. Sometimes I have no clue HOW, lol.

Good luck with your shelter. That is a rough situation and so frustrating with the board. Thanks for doing so much for these animals-- I hope they keep finding good (lifelong!) homes.

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