Shelters respond to economic crisis

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2008:
The Best Friends Animal Society in November 2008 laid off 30
personnel, retaining 420. “Our revenues are up about 5% this year
compared to last, but in recent years we have averaged near 20%
annual growth,” chief executive officer Paul Berry told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “Donors are giving less frequently, because they are
worried about the uncertain economy. We wanted to act now, in
advance of any urgency,” Berry added, “so that we could afford our
folks a proper severance and get them out in the job market now,
before the worst of it hits.” The largest previous layoff by any
major U.S. humane society of which ANIMAL PEOPLE has record came when
the Massachusetts SPCA, with 600 staff, laid off 20 and eliminated
32 vacant positions in 2003. The MSPCA had survived the Great
Depression without laying off anyone, but had earlier all but folded
the Bands of Mercy and Jack London Clubs to cope with the debt
incurred in building Angell Memorial Hospital, opened in 1915. At
peak in 1912 as many as 265,000 Bands of Mercy involved
schoolchildren in educational activities, while the Jack London
Clubs mobilized 750,000 teenaged animal advocates.

The Florida East Coast Humane Society, formerly the St.
Augustine Humane Society, sent six dogs and 15 cats to the
Jacksonville Humane Society on October 31, 2008, and closed “after
more than 65 years in operation,” reported Charlie Patton of the
Florida Times-Union. Executive director Cindy Bishop hoped a
fundraising drive might enable it to reopen in six to eight months.

Dog & Kitty City, a 30-year-old no-kill shelter in Dallas,
Texas, in November 2008 briefly stopped accepting animals due to
lack of funds, reporting a 25% drop in adoptions and a 75% fall in
donations since a year earlier, but an article about the crisis by
Dan X. McGraw of the Dallas Morning News brought “more than $15,000
and hundreds of pounds of food to the no-kill shelter,” shelter
director Sandra Mustafa told McGraw several days later.

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