The message coming from The Humane Society Serving Clark County leadership and the message coming from the Clark County Administration is not matching up regarding the financial woes of the organization.

A year ago, the organization had dozens of volunteers, an active grant program supporting their spay and neuter fund as well as other needs of the shelter. Almost daily shelter workers would find donations of food and other items for the dogs and cats outside their door and many individuals around the county would drop off items during regular business hours.

The shelter took in owner-released pets, animals picked up by the Clark County Dog Wardens and spent each Saturday at PetSmart in Springfield with volunteers helping to rehome dogs. The cats had a new room at the shelter and they filled the space at PetSmart. The organization participated in adoption events at MARS, TSC, NTPRD Yappy Hour, PetSmart National Adoption Day and dozens of other events during the year. They also held a “Clear the Shelter” event each year that extended hours of the shelter overnight and had specials throughout the event offering discounts on adoptions. Many dogs also were prepared for their forever homes by participating in a prison training program.

A year ago a group of volunteers worked to hold the first of what was to be an annual “party” for adopted dogs at Snyder Park raising funds to supplement the spay and neuter clinic after a reduction in funds from a local foundation. Corporate sponsors were involved and the event also featured a 5 K Run-Walk for dogs and their owners. A local business also held an annual benefit in October to help with the care of the dogs and cats. All of these fundraisers and adoption events appear to have been abandoned by the 2016 Board of Directors and the new shelter director.

What happened is the question on the minds of many in our community to make those events a thing of the past and all of the dedicated volunteers decide to walk away.

According to the Go Fund Me page sponsored by The Humane Society Serving Clark County Board, they are making a claim that their “budget was cut drastically on February 16, 2017”. They note cutting staffing and shelter hours that will not “make up the $165,000 budget loss”. They also claim that they are “hurriedly implementing” the standards for keeping the animals for three days. This was always the case from what we could gather from our sources. It is not a new Ohio Revised Code requirement. The public information also indicates that the Director and Board have no data that was collected over the past several years that was previously provided that helped the organization to receive multiple grants. It is unclear why the organization does not have the reports that were provided on a regular basis to the former Board of Directors as late as last summer when they had an experienced interim director in place.

Because the Executive Director Roger Ganley declined to answer our questions, we found the information contained in this article on the Humane Society web page. The board indicates that their operating budget is “approximately $400,000 per year”. They note that the organization receives the majority of the food from donations as well as cat litter. They also note that the spay and neuters are donated by local veterinarians and the Ohio State Veterinary School. Despite this information, the organization is only asking for $145,000 each year from donors.

The Enon Eagle / New Carlisle News contacted Clark County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson to learn more about the “cuts” to the financial contract with the Humane Society that are referred to by the Board on their Go Fund Me page.

For some months the Board of Directors knew that they would not be receiving the funding for the Clark County Dog Wardens in their annual contract from Clark County. In 2016 a number of long time board members left the organization for unknown reasons leaving three members in charge for several months without a full time Executive Director in place. At their public meetings, the three members refused to provide information on when a Director might be hired leaving many volunteers and supporters with more questions than answers regarding leadership and funding for the future.

As 2017 planning began, a new set of board members was in place without the three that ran the organization and presided over the organization last summer when a number of departures of full time staff from the shelter occurred. It should not have been a surprise to them when the former contract of $240,000 per year was reduced to $80,000 (around $6,660 per month) by the county as the Dog Wardens were moved to the county budget and the Humane Society requested that the offices located at the shelter be moved to a county facility this year. From the information we gathered from sources in the community, the changes were not a surprise to the board.

In the past, the county paid the Humane Society Board $160,000 for the salaries, vehicles and equipment for the Dog Wardens. When that was renegotiated over several months, the Board knew they would be seeing a drastic decrease in funds. They do receive the Dog and Kennel Funds from the county as they did in the past. “In essence they are receiving about the same amount ($80,000) of funding” for housing, feeding etc of “county dogs that were impounded there by the Dog Wardens” explained County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson by e-mail.

The shelter is now open only a couple of days a week after being open for years six days per week. Ganley did not confirm information regarding the removal of cats from PetSmart nor the discontinuation of the adoption program lead by volunteers on Saturdays at the Bechtle Avenue location. The Enon Eagle/New Carlisle News was able to confirm with volunteers that both adoption programs were abruptly ended recently without any notice to the volunteers. Ganley also did not comment on the number of current volunteers; however the web page indicates that the organization appears to be looking for new community members to step forward.

We were also able to confirm that the county owns the land on which the shelter building is located. The building is owned by the Humane Society and a lease is in place for as long as they operate a shelter at the location.

The organization has raised $4,835 of their $50,000 goal on the Go Fund Me Page as of March 19. Clark County had contracted with Montgomery County to accept animals brought in by the Dog Wardens; however that contract has lapsed as the Humane Society Board agreed to accept the $80,000 contract for this year. Although the fundraising page sites a cost of $50 per day to house an animal, most shelters receive between $12 and $15 in contracted public funds. After 72 hours an animal becomes the property of the humane organization when the owners do not come to retrieve their stray pets.

The Humane Society Serving Clark County has an open invitation to dispute the numbers provided by the county and to explain why they do not have records from the previous board members in their possession.

Individuals who wish to support their efforts to raise funds for the shelter can find information on their web page. No additional fundraisers are listed at this time.

If the organization defaults on their contract and must close the shelter, the community can rest assured that Clark County Administration will contract with another shelter to take the animals picked up by the Dog Wardens. At this time there are few options for owner released animals in the area and families are encouraged to contact facilities in surrounding counties for assistance.

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