2013 Humane Society Restructuring for Financial Recovery

NEWS RELEASE - August 6, 2013
Full original text as submitted to the media

The Henry County Humane Society (HCHS) is announcing plans this week to downsize it shelter operations in an effort to recover financially.  The most notable change begins August 15, 2013 when dogs will no longer be accepted from the public at its Independence Drive shelter in Napoleon.  The move will return full responsibility for dog sheltering to the County Dog Warden and County Commissioners.  Under Ohio law, Dog Warden services, including the provision of a dog shelter, are funded through the sale of county dog licenses, fines and reclaim fees.  “In a small county like ours,” stated HCHS Board member Bruce Weirauch, “the operation of two dog shelters is simply not the best use of dog license or donation dollars.” 

For over 27 years, the Humane Society served under contract as the County’s dog shelter, as the law allows.  In late 2011 County Commissioners chose to again establish a County-operated dog shelter but that shelter has been taking in stray dogs primarily.  The HCHS continued to accept owned dogs until now, and will dramatically reduce its labor costs by sheltering cats only.  “This is a move we didn’t want to make, even temporarily, but facts are facts; we simply can’t afford not to,” said Weirauch.   The Dog Warden and Commissioners will receive a letter of notification from HCHS regarding this change.

Another downsizing strategy is underway to help maintain a manageable number of cats being housed at the shelter at one time.  Before automatically accepting unwanted cats from the public, people will be urged to consider alternatives before coming to the shelter, or walking away knowing that the chances for adoption are slim.  “We need people to play an active role in finding a reasonable alternative and a better outcome for these cats,” explains Diana Riefers, Operations Manager.  Riefers said that alternatives include low-cost spay/neuter and keeping the cat, keeping kittens at home with their mother until weaned (and then getting Mom fixed) and the online promotion of “at-home” adoptable cats to avoid overcrowding the shelter and possible euthanasia. 


The Humane Society is working to turn financial crisis into an opportunity to restructure the organization.  The Society recognizes that local charitable contributions are being stretched between many worthy causes.  “We have to focus our limited resources where they will be the most effective,” added Board member Stephanie Kramer.  She explains, “To do the greatest good for the greatest number of animals, our strategies will be focusing on reducing pet overpopulation through spay/neuter programs that make pet sterilization more accessible to more pet owners.”  She added that a major goal is to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens so that fewer and fewer animals will ever need to walk through any animal shelter doors.  

Trap/Neuter/Return programs for cats coupled with low-cost spay/neuter assistance have proven successful in reducing animal shelter intakes and euthanasia in communities across the country, Kramer explained.  “We’re committed to becoming more effective at our mission of preventing animal suffering and improving the quality of life in our communities,” said Kramer, “we simply have to change the way we’re doing business to continue helping animals.” 

By reducing sheltering costs, focusing on spay/neuter and other life-saving strategies, and ramping up its fundraising efforts, the Humane Society hopes to emerge from the financial crisis quickly while improving its positive impact on the people and animals of greater Henry County.   Anyone wishing to help the Humane Society in its restructuring and financial recovery, Riefers suggested, can help with contributions, membership, volunteering their time at the shelter, on a committee, or at the Society’s bingo game, getting pets spayed or neutered, and of course adopting shelter animals. 

“The HCHS would like to thank all those that responded to our recent fundraising mailer, Board Treasurer Weirauch added, “The support received helped a great deal, but these downsizing measures are still necessary for financial recovery and to begin restructuring.”

The HCHS will continue to assist people with lost and found pets, and will promote the adoption of dogs from the County Dog Shelter and area shelters, provide cat sheltering and adoption services, and will lend assistance to the Dog Warden and regular law enforcement as requested, especially in times of emergency or disaster.  The Society will also continue to provide Humane Agents to respond to complaints of animal cruelty, and staff will continue to provide advice and assistance with other animal related issues.  The public is encouraged to check for hours of operation and intake policy changes before visiting the shelter, as additional changes are possible.  Phone 419-592-3777, email, staff@henryhumane.org, or visit the website at www.henryhumane.org.