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Humane Society facing serious budget constraints

Saturday, July 16, 2011

At the July meeting of the Humane Society of Putnam County Board of Directors, the members heard grim reports of the financial status of the shelter.

The Humane Society has been impacted by the summer influx of animals as well as a reduction of income and reduced numbers of adoptions.

"We have a lot of wonderful animals that need good homes," Executive Director Lynelle Cullen said. "We strive to place friendly, healthy animals."

Cullen indicated that the confusion is because Humane Society operates the shelter but the various county law enforcement agencies handle the animal control responsibilities.

"Because some law enforcement agencies will only respond if there is a complaint of an aggressive animal, some people think that we only have aggressive animals at the shelter, which is quite the opposite," Cullen said. "With few exceptions, our animals are friendly and love attention.

"Our goal is temporarily house and find good homes for the adoptable animals at the shelter," Cullen said. "The Humane Society in Putnam County does not respond to addresses or handle complaints about animals nor is HSPC responsible for housing all of the homeless animals in the county. The Humane Society is a private non-profit, which people do not always understand. We do not have unlimited funds and struggle just like any other non-profit organization. I give a lot of advice but basically we are a temporary home for animals."

The Humane Society charges for pet adoptions but to keep the costs of the animals down, they cannot charge what fully goes into the animal care and shelter operations per pet.

"The board has set the fees based upon surrounding counties and what the people of Putnam County can afford," Cullen said. "But we do not make money off adoptions. There are fees for vaccinations, spay/neuter, HW/FIV testing and microchipping as well as any medical problems the animal may have that they need treated for that takes up the bulk of the adoption money. But it guarantees that we send out a healthy animal when the animal goes home."

The board was briefed on the decreased revenues for the year.

Cullen noted that shelters and humane society organizations all across the state and the nation are struggling to survive and meet their mission of quality animal care.

"We are thankful for our donors and those that have had fundraisers for us, without them, we would be in a much tougher position then we are or even possibly be closed," Cullen said

Board President Kraig Kinney noted that the public seems to have embraced the Rescued Treasures resale store downtown Greencastle, but that the revenues transferred from donation sales were only slowly building.

"We had a great opening and it is holding strong, but we can still use donations at the store and also buyers to purchase the goods so it gives cash for shelter operations," Kinney said.

The board discussed the financial challenges facing the Humane Society without any county government financial support although several municipalities do pay money to the Humane Society to serve as the shelter for their animal control efforts.

"This is a reality check," said board member Norm Warren. "We are not closing. We are not euthanizing without cause. But we may need to make some drastic changes if we cannot locate more revenue."

The board is considering options such as limiting the number of animals in the shelter at one time, which reduces the manpower needed to manage the animals.

"We are committed to our staff that does a great job with animals, but there has been some turnover so we may need to re-evaluate filling those positions," Kinney said. "If we reduce the number of animals that are there at any one time, that controls operational costs overall. We are just stuffed to capacity and that creates demands on staffing and other costs."

The board did not make any final decisions as to cuts and directed Cullen to make recommendations at the next meeting.

"The public has been so supportive that the board felt that they deserved to know how critically low the income is so we can avert a full disaster in the future," Kinney said. "Any financial assistance or suggestions would be greatly appreciated."

For more information or to make a donation to the Humane Society of Putnam County, visit www.hspcanimals.org/.

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I love the headline, "Human Society facing serious budget constraints." I was thoroughly confused what in the world a "Human Society" would do until I read the article. What a difference an "e" makes at the end of the word "human." I hope it won't be too long before the headline is corrected, and readers are wondering what I'm talking about. I promise at 5:30pm Putnam County had a "human" society.

-- Posted by Light in the Dark on Sat, Jul 16, 2011, at 5:44 PM

Good job fixing the headline by 7pm on Saturday, Too bad there's still a "Human Society of Putnam County" mentioned in the article. This is kind of a fun game to play.

-- Posted by Light in the Dark on Sat, Jul 16, 2011, at 7:19 PM

It appears to me that the in-article typo mentioned above has also now been corrected. I'm very adept at catching typos, and I had to go back and re-read to see if the mistakes were still there since I didn't see any the first time around. There doesn't seem to be any more "human society" in the article. Thanks to those who brought it to the attention of the newspaper staff, and even more thanks to the staff for making the corrections. I have noticed that these types of mistakes are less frequent now that Eric is back in the Editor's seat. Good job, B-G and EB!

-- Posted by cll on Sun, Jul 17, 2011, at 11:10 PM

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