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Humane Society faces temporary closure

Humane Society1By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

The Pulaski County Humane Society could shut down tomorrow for an undetermined amount of time, due to financial struggles with the facility.

The potential closure was announced earlier this week on the Humane Society’s Facebook page, after being determined at their board meeting on Monday. According to Candice Simmons, the Humane Society’s Executive Director, skyrocketing medical expenses have been a major contributing factor to the sudden revelation that they might have to close.

The Pulaski County Humane Society takes in abandoned animals throughout the county and is committed to controlling the pet population. According to Simmons, donations from the community are everything to the Humane Society, as those funds keep them going on a week-to-week basis.

“That’s the question mark at the end of the week,” Simmons said. “Can we afford to do another one?”

Simmons is referring to the Humane Society’s spay and neuter clinic which is made available every week. The organization relies heavily on the clinic, which, according to Simmons, provides a more affordable alternative to sterilizing pets than they would if done at an animal hospital or private practice veterinary clinic.

Since announcing the potential closure, the Humane Society has received some donations throughout the week through their website, which continue to come in. Right now, staying open could depend on finding some grant funding, which helps keep the Humane Society financially afloat from time to time.

“There’s been quite a bit of support there, from tiny little donations to bigger ones,” Simmons said. “There are also a few little grants here and there, other than that, there’s no public money.”

In the past, the Humane Society has received grants for their low cost vaccination clinics, as well as from larger organizations Pet Corps Charities. They currently have some possible prospects, but are looking for any possible grant opportunities from any possible animal welfare group they can work with.

If a proper funding solution cannot be acquired by tomorrow, the Humane Society will have to close their doors until they are able to find stable ground. According to Simmons, they need about $6,000 to stay open, and there’s no telling how long the facility could stay closed until those financial needs are met.

“It could be two weeks, it could be a month,” Simmons said.

The Humane Society’s employees, which includes a veterinarian who comes in weekly for the spay neuter clinic, as well as a few full-time and part-time employees, would be temporarily out of work if the shelter shuts down.

As for the animals, however, they will not have to physically leave the building, and would still be looked after through the uncertain period. Pulaski County’s Animal Control department would take over operations until further notice, as they work in partnership with the Humane Society.

At any given time, the shelter usually holds about 60 to 70 animals, including mostly dogs and cats, and other species such as rabbits. Without the Humane Society, however, the adoption and rescue options will be put on the backburner, as well as the spay and neuter clinic.

“We work really hard to get the animals out of here and promote them, working with rescue and doing adoption events,” Simmons said. “What would also happen is the euthanasia rate would go up.”

Since the Pulaski County Humane Society was founded in 1979, it has been their primary goal to minimize pet overpopulation in order to avoid resorting to euthanasia. Since to 2000, the euthanasia rate in Pulaski County has decreased from 71 percent to just over 14 percent last year, according to Simmons.

“There are a lot of factors that have contributed to that decline,” she said. “We now have a better facility to house them in, in addition to our spay and neuter clinics and rescues.”

In fact, Simmons said the Humane Society broke records last year as they managed to rescue 238 animals.

“It doesn’t really sound like a huge number to some people, but we’re not a very big shelter, and it really is,” Simmons said.

The Pulaski County Humane Society still plans to go through with their plans and hold their spay and neuter clinic today. They also have one planned for next week, although the current funding issues will determine whether or not it happens.

As of right now, it all depends on the donations coming in and the grants they’re able to find in order to keep the Humane Society going and the animals in a safe place. Simmons said that in order to keep that going, they’ve been looking in to previous organizations they’ve worked with to get the grant money they need and keep the shelter open

“Hopefully, if we can stand on our feet, we’ll be able to apply for those grants again, and paws crossed, we’ll get some funding.”

To learn more about the Pulaski County Humane Society or make a donation online, go to www.pchsva.org.

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