Humane Society reflects on past year

Published 2:46 pm Friday, January 5, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Humane Society started their first meeting of 2018 reflecting on 2017 and what is needed moving forward.

In December, 198 animals came into the shelter. Of these, 158 were surrendered by the owner.

Also in December, 70 animals went to rescue organizations and 20 animals were adopted. Only eight animals were euthanized.

In addition to the usual dogs and cats, 2017 also brought a few unusual visitors to the shelter. These included one donkey, two snakes, a goat, a pig and three squirrels. In total, the shelter took in 2,620 animals, 1,937 of which were owner surrenders.

More than half of these were sent to rescue organizations, allowing the organization to keep the euthanasia rate down to 28 percent. For dogs, the euthanasia rate was 5 percent.

“That is incredible to have a 5 percent euthanasia rate for dogs,” President Katherine Reece said.

She said when she first began working with the shelter, the euthanasia rate was above 70 percent.

“So on one hand, we are succeeding extremely well, but on the other hand we’re not because our finances are not keeping up,” Reece said.

Vice President Kristi Hyche said the Human Society had about $16,000 in the bank and another $2,000 in the PayPal account. Reece said another $15,000 is expected in local government contributions.

“We should be able to work our way out of debt this month,” Reece said. “Our payroll has been decreased. We had two employees leave last month. One of them was part-time and one of them was full-time.”

Needs at the shelter for a new heater and an animal transport van were also discussed.

Reece said the organization will need to find a way to increase funds to stay ahead of bills.

New board member Lee Helms has experience writing grants, and the board is hopeful he can secure a grant for the shelter.

Shelter staff member Jennifer Fesmire presented the board of a breakdown of health-related costs for keeping an animal for one month. The breakdown showed the shelter spends more money on caring for most animals for one month than it will receive from the adoption fee, if the animal is adopted.

Reece said the organization loses money on every adoption when labor costs are considered.

The greatest difference was for an adult female cat. Veterinarian care for an adult female cat the first month it is in the shelter, including having it spayed, costs $102.57. This is $77.57 more than the shelter’s adoption fee for an adult cat.

“The reason we adopt a male cat out for $25 and a kitten out for $50 is to just get some of them out the door alive,” Reece said.

Hyche said no one adopts cats, unless they are especially unique looking. This is one reason why the euthanasia rate is high for cats.

Reece said most of the animals that come in to the shelter are “highly adoptable.”

Decreasing the cost of spay/neutering the animals is an option through the Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic. However, since funds are required upfront to qualify for the matching donor funds, this is not an option at the moment, according to Hyche.