HUNTSVILLE – The doors of the Animal Shelter for Huntsville are now closed, but that does not mean they cannot open later, says shelter chair Jane McPhee.
SEARCHING FOR A HOME:.
About 18 homeless cats are still searching for loving families, despite the Animal Shelter for Huntsville ceasing normal operation as of Sept. 30. Pet adoptions can still be made on a by-appointment basis by contacting the shelter as volunteers plan to remain on duty until the cats are adopted.
The shelter was forced to close Sept. 30 because it did not have enough funds to remain open.
But the shelter board said the need for an animal shelter in Huntsville remains, and it aims to reopen in a year’s time.
“We want to open next year,” said McPhee. “But we need the sustainability.”
According to the board, the shelter costs about $220,000 a year to operate.
McPhee said expenses accumulate through taxes, heat, hydro, staff salaries, food, pet supplies and veterinarian costs.
And the cost of running the shelter increases based on how many animals it houses, she said. At one point last year, the no-kill shelter had 150 cats and 27 dogs in its care.
If the shelter does reopen, McPhee said the board would start budgeting to income.
Instead of taking in animals and absorbing the costs associated with them, the shelter would take only as many animals as it can afford based on the funding it has in its coffers, she said.
When asked if the shelter had a financial planner that could help it revisit its budget, McPhee said the shelter had a business associate who is willing to help, but could not elaborate further.
The one-year operating hiatus will give the board and the burnt-out volunteers an opportunity to regroup, said McPhee.
“We need to plan for next year,” said McPhee. “We can’t keep going the way we were.”
The shelter had petitioned municipal government and the community for sustainable funding sources over the passed year, but the result was not as successful as the shelter had hoped.
Support from the community will be integral if the shelter is to reopen, said McPhee. Without a funding source, the shelter will not be able to offer services to the community and its stray, feral or abandoned pets, she said.
But regardless of the future, the shelter still had 18 cats left for adoption as of press time. McPhee said the shelter had sought space at other shelters for the remaining cats as of the Sept. 30 deadline. But those shelters were full, she said.
Despite ceasing its regular operation last week and laying off its staff members as of Thanksgiving weekend, volunteers will continue to adopt out the friendly felines on a by-appointment-only basis.
Staff member Taylor Kendall-Hill said the cats still left in the shelter were skittish and shy when the building was filled with noise and commotion. But now that many of their comrades have found homes, the remaining cats are calm, friendly and looking for families.
Adoptions and donations at the shelter increased rapidly when its dire situation made the media through outlets such as dog whisperer Caser Millan’s foundation.
“But now it seems like people have forgotten about us,” said Kendall-Hill “We’re still here.”