If there is indeed a future for the Humane Society of Putnam County, the present has become extremely important.
That's the belief of Humane Society President Kraig Kinney and other board members in the face of the recent closing of the animal shelter.
The key, he said, is starting and sustaining a funding stream, which he realistically envisions as a combination of community fund drives and dedicated financial support of some kind from the county.
"Optimistically," Kinney said, "if we are to have any chance of reopening, it needs to be within the next six to nine months or it is going to be very difficult to do so."
He admitted board members have had very preliminary conversations with at least one county commissioner about the prospect of a collaborative effort between city, county and Humane Society to operate the shelter. Such a proposal would have to be formalized and presented to county and city governments for approval, of course.
"Sustainability is the key word," Kinney said.
The organization does not want to see a would-be savior come forward to get the shelter reopened and then face the same situation again a few months down the road. A long-term solution is what is being sought during the down time until an anticipated reopening sometime after the first of the year.
Three factors are crucial to making that occur, Kinney said.
First, is securing enough funds -- through community donations, etc. -- to pay down the existing HSPC debt of $29,000.
Secondly, he said, is a goal of doubling the Humane Society's existing reserve endowment, administered by the Putnam County Community Foundation, from its present $335,000 $700,000 or more. That would provide a greater draw from the endowment for annual operations costs.
And finally, securing county funds via licensing or other means along with retaining the contractual municipal support already in place with Greencastle, Cloverdale, Bainbridge and Fillmore who pay for the services of the shelter.
This year, interest from the HSPC endowment provided $14,000 to use as general operating funds. Looking at that overall $335,000 figure, residents and even HSPC board members have wondered why the organization doesn't just apply those funds to its current needs and reopen the facility.
Using just the interest off the endowment, Kinney said, provides "steady income" that can be counted on annually as an amount that "doesn't change with the whims" of the public or the governing body.
Once the endowment principal would be spent, future financial flexibility would be gone, Kinney reasoned in opposing such an idea.
Kinney said the public has been asking many questions about the HSPC funding and whether or not the organization is still accepting donations while it is closed. The answer, of course, is yes.
Donations can be sent to the Humane Society at P.O. Box 444, Greencastle, IN 46135 or to the endowment through the Putnam County Community Foundation, P.O. Box 514, Greencastle, IN 46135.
"Donations clearly help," Kinney said. "We're not just paying down the old debt, we're looking to the future."
And if the shelter is going to reopen, the Humane Society is going to need strong, continued support from the public.
Consequently, Kinney suggested, "this may not be a bad time to broach the subject of licensing."
Several counties use the licensing approach to fund animal shelters, with licensing fees ranging from $5 per animal per year to $20 per year. Putnam County, he suggested, would probably fall somewhere in between.
"One of the benefits," Kinney said, "is you know you are helping animal control."
Fees also can be tiered by how a pet owner protects his animals via spay and neutering efforts.
He said the typical $5 fee sees $1 go to Purdue University for Extension Service funding and 75 cents to the licensing agency to cover administrative fees. That leaves $3.25 of the $5 licensing fee per animal for the county to earmark for animal control and quarantine.
In the meantime, while officials work out such details, day-to-day issues involving stray and unwanted dogs and cats have no real local answers. The only apparent solution available is to transport such animals to out-of-county facilities that will take them.