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LETTERS / In Light of Budget Cuts, Avery Humane Society Does Serve People of County

Dear Editor,In reference to the Avery Journal News Times article regarding budget cuts to the YMCA, Avery Humane Society, and the Health Department, we as the Board of Directors for Avery Humane Society would like to respond.Commissioner Laws made a statement that Avery County Humane Society does not serve the people of Avery County. In defense of this statement we would like to present the following ways we serve the people of Avery County.

Since 2012 we have taken in 3102 homeless, abandoned, or surrendered animals. Since 2012 we have adopted out 2502 of those of those animals.

We offer jobs to 18 residents.

From April 2013-December 2014 1154 animals of Avery County residents were spayed or neutered through our shelter for FREE. The cost to Avery County residents was $0.00. The cost to the private citizen who sponsored that program through Avery Humane was over $70,000.00

So far in 2015 we have spayed or neutered 102 animals of Avery County residents through our low cost program at a cost of $8,000.00.

In 2014 we held two low cost shot clinics. 274 vaccinations were given to the Avery County residents at a 54% discount in comparison to what they would have paid at a Vet clinic.

We offer educational programs to school children. They can tour our shelter and our employees and volunteers go out to the schools to educate children on animal care, what an animal shelter is, and ways they can help through volunteerism and spay/neuter.

We reunite lost pets with their owners on a regular basis. Whether the animal makes it to our shelter and we find the owner through social media or we receive calls from frantic owners and are able to match them up with a call received earlier about a found animal. We estimate the number of reunited animals we facilitate to exceed 100 per year.

In order to bring about these services the monthly cost to run the shelter is around $60,000.00. We are not funded in any way by organizations like the Humane Society of the United States or ASPCA. We are also not run by Avery County. We are funded fully by grants and donations. We make applications to charities like Petsmart Charities. We also receive funding from foundations like the Blair Foundation. We have private individuals who donate money, food, and time to help us in our mission. As an organization we also fundraise. We have events like the Birthday Bash we recently had where we sold BBQ sandwiches and baked goods made by people from our community. We also auctioned off items that had been donated to us by local businesses. We have the Paws for a Cause 5K and Doggie Fun Walk coming up in June and also the Pet Fest set for July in Banner Elk. We also have various other fundraisers we do though out the year.

You may sometimes hear the Humane Society referred to as a private organization. This is an effort on our part to separate us from large organizations with a similar name like The Humane Society of the United States and also to make it clear that we are not a government entity (county owned). We are not now and have never mixed public and private funds therefore we are not “hinging on the grounds of a criminal violation” as Commissioner Griffin would

like you to believe.

When an animal comes to our shelter we spend on average $400.00 to make that animal adoptable. This includes vaccinations, spay/neuter, flea/tic treatment, food, and staff to care for the animal. If that animal remains in our care longer than 30 days we spend another $280 per month.

Our adoption fee is $85. We often have specials to encourage adoptions and offer animals at a reduced or free rate.

We can house 55 cats and 25-40 dogs depending on their size. These numbers are set by state inspectors. If we exceed these numbers we can be shut down.

When we reach our maximum capacity of animals we begin a waiting list for people wishing to surrender animals. The person on top of the list is contacted as soon as an animal is adopted making room for their animal. Our records show we have never had a six week waiting list as stated by Commissioner Laws. We do not euthanize an adoptable animal to make room for another animal. We believe that euthanizing healthy adoptable animals, whom we have invested $400.00 in to make room for animals of questionable health is not a responsible way to spend the money we are granted.

At this time we are unclear why Commissioner Vance referred to the $3000.00 appropriation as a “warning” to the Humane Society. In the past the Humane Society has received $50,000 or more yearly from Avery County. This money was restricted in use and can be used for utilities. In speaking with the commissioners we were told that they have never received any positive feedback from the public about their interactions with the shelter. We would ask any citizen who has benefited from our free or low cost spay/neuter, our low cost vaccination clinics, who has been reunited with a lost pet through us, or who has adopted an animal to contact the commissioners and let them know that our services are appreciated and needed in this county.

An invitation has been extended to all county commissioners to come tour our facility at any time. We will make ourselves available to answer any questions they may have about any issue they have with the Avery County Humane Society.

In closing, we want to thank each and every person who has donated to us or adopted an animal from us. Without your support of our shelter the animals of Avery County would have no voice.

Board of Directors

Avery County Humane Society

279 New Vale Rd

Newland, NC 28657