Helping animals takes funding

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Helping animals takes funding


When it comes to helping animals, Brad Bohmer said he's always been motivated to do so.

Bohmer spoke to the Greencastle Rotary Club Wednesday about the current financial situation of The Humane Society of Putnam County.

Bohmer, 31, is the current treasurer of the non-profit organization, a place that he calls "a positive place for animals and people." He began his speech by stating that the Humane Society has not received government funding since late 2005. It was this fact that motivated him to become treasurer, he said.

Bohmer began volunteering at the shelter during the summer of 2005. He started out just walking dogs and socializing with the animals. He said it wasn't long after that he wanted to get involved financially.

"I realized that more than anything, if you don't have money, even if you're a non-profit organization, you're not going to survive," he told the club.

Bohmer stated that since the government funding ceased, there has always been a problem. "The Humane Society could potentially not exist in 12 months," he said.

The costs this year have been approximately $210,000, while the revenue has only been around $170,000 to $175,000.

"There's definitely a deficit," he told the BannerGraphic.

But Bohmer believes there is still hope.

He spoke about a few recent developments the shelter has created to possibly make some income.

One of the newest programs is the "Lucky Paws" Transports program.

According to Bohmer, communities in New England have an undersupply of mixed breeds. With the program, volunteers take 25 to 30 dogs each trip to communities mostly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. There, the animals get spayed or neutered and find good homes.

Bohmer said this program has really helped increased the adoption rate and lower the euthanasia rate.

Three to four years ago, the Humane Society's euthanasia rate was 70 to 80 percent. "It was a way to help with overcrowdedness," Bohmer said. But today, he said that the transport system and numerous volunteers helped the euthanasia rate decrease to 5 percent and the adoption rate increase to 95 percent.

"We now only euthanize animals if they are dangerous or injured beyond repair," Bohmer said.

With this transport system, approximately 500 dogs' lives have been saved, but Bohmer said the organization still loses money. He said they are reimbursed for the transport fees, but they still pay for the spaying and neutering.

One way Bohmer feels the organization can pull itself out of the hole is with corporate sponsorship. And he feels the transport system would be a good way to gain those sponsors.

Without the help now, the Humane Society relies on their existing animal services to attract income. Some of those include programs that deal with vaccinations, microchips, heartworms, spaying and neutering, school partnerships, and working with PetSmart as an adoption service.

Last month, Bohmer said the organization even held a garage sale and raised over $10,000.

But sponsorships and volunteers are, in the end, what the organization needs, he said, especially with the transport program.

Bohmer, a 1998 graduate of DePauw University, insisted that the Humane Society of Putnam County is the only existing option for animals in the area. "We will have approximately 1,700 dogs come through the shelter this year alone," he said.

But Bohmer remained optimistic about the situation by saying, "We do exist, we exist in a positive manner, and we are there for you."

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