• Local Shelters In Need

  • © 2011 Scales, Tails & Paws

    Dixie is a 10-year old Australian cattle dog who is a loyal and loving companion. For the last year, she has brightened her owner’s world in a loving home in Cardington, Ohio. Dixie was found by a real estate agent inside an abandoned home, near death and abandoned with no food or water. No one knows how long she was there. The owners, who had Dixie for 9 years, could not take her with them so they closed the door and they never looked back. A local shelter took her in and nursed her back to health. Eventually, she was adopted.

    Unfortunately, Dixie’s story is not unique. But local shelters in communities all across the U.S. are crippled with an onslaught of abandoned pets who are casualties of the recession. The economy has strapped local shelters with too many animals and not enough financial resources to care for them. Financial contributions are slim as even the trusted donors are cutting back.

    A large number of those people who can donate fall into a common misperception that assumes large national animal organizations provide financial support for animal shelters on a local level. In fact, a recent nationwide poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation found seven out of 10 Americans believe the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) serves as an umbrella organization for all of the nation’s humane societies and animal shelters. This is not the case.

    National organizations like the HSUS and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have the funding and power to do things on a national level that local shelters do not have the resources to accomplish. Conversely, it is the local shelters that provide the first-line of defense in communities to get animals in need immediate care and adopt them out to loving homes. While the goals are the same, these organizations all perform different functions and all too often, they also solicit the same donor base. It is the local shelters that often suffer as a result.

    “We are lucky to have such a dedicated team in Washington fighting for us and the animals on a national level,” said Kellie DiFrischia of the Columbus Dog Connection. “I often tell friends and family that the national organizations play an important role to helping homeless animals, but if they give locally and specify they want their funds used strictly for spay/neuter programs, this donation will have the greatest impact on the homeless issue that we all spend so much time and energy trying to overcome.”

    In recent years, local shelters and the national organizations have tried to find ways to work together because they all want to protect animals, but how they get there varies from organization to organization and from shelter to shelter.

    “People think all shelters get government funding,” said Stephanie Wimbish, Director of the Citizens for Humane Action (CHA) Animal Shelter in Columbus, Ohio. “They do not think about us in the way they do other charities. The five dollar donation, the $25 donation keeps our doors open.”

    For each animal in the care of the CHA Animal Shelter, it costs approximately $494 to provide shelter, veterinary care and medicine, spay/neuter services, comfortable cages and emergency surgery if needed. Some dogs and cats are adopted out for as little as five dollars.

    “Their money goes to the direct care of animals,” Wimbish said. The end result is affordable adoptions and assurance for donors that their money is well spent.

    In 2010, that direct care was spread thin in shelters due to the tremendous increase in owner-surrenders. A survey conducted by Wimbish of just five shelters in the Central Ohio region last year showed more than 26,000 animals that required care and housing.

    That is even more reason that donors need to carefully examine where their dollars are going to make sure it is a good fit for their wishes. There are several resources that provide financial statements of organizations and shelters as well as documentation showing the trickle-down of donations. Websites like Charitynavigator.org and Guidestar.org provide ratings and financial tracking. The Better Business Bureau also provides tips for donating and rating information on organizations through Give.org.

    In this financial climate, every dollar matters. Local shelters are reaching out to let donors know that even a few dollars can help feed, medicate or shelter an animal on the local level. And for loving animals like Dixie, it means the difference between recovery and someone else closing the door.