While the Lehigh County (In)Humane Society refuses to answer questions from the press, the county commissioners and even the townships that pay them, they are quite happy to address the public on their webite. Let’s read and interpret.
“Throughout 2008 and 2009, the shelter and its management and staff have been subjected to ever increasing challenges and stress imposed to a great extent by the recessive economy. It should also be noted that these stresses have been aggravated by the unnecessary, stifling actions of local zealots and a few politicians seeking to impede the shelter's ability to cover its expenses by publishing and promoting lies, misinformation and unfounded, denigrating propaganda regarding the shelter's operations.”
“First, a few basic facts that must be understood by the community and by the administrators of the many local municipal governments that the shelter has served diligently for years:
- Animal control is a governmental responsibility specified by PA state law.
(NOTE: THIS IS THE VERY REASON WHY THE LCHS IS REQUIRED TO RESPOND TO REQUESTS UNDER THE OPEN RECORDS LAW)
- The LCHS is a private, not-for-profit, charitable 501(c)3 corporation that has absolutely no legal responsibility for performing animal control duties, unless contracted to do so.
(Note: That thankfully is true—so now the 8 municipalities who are no longer contracting with these people are better protecting their animals. LCHS is non-profit but they do have a $2 million nest egg and they do have several paid employees. Compare that to the animal lovers that run the no-kills at far less financial gain. Which group is truly committed to animals?)
- The LCHS receives no money from any municipal government for the shelter's operational expenses except for the fees it receives, if contracted, to perform animal control duties. For many years, those animal control fees received by the shelter have covered less than 12% of the expenses incurred by the shelter to provide animal control; the remaining 88%+ was paid by the shelter – essentially subsidizing the 23 municipalities using the funds raised via donations and other charitable sources during each of those years by the hard work of the shelter staff and volunteers.
(Note: I guess that explains the attempt to recover a lost $22,500 five times over.)
- The costs incurred by the shelter for admitting and caring for the 4005 stray animals admitted to the shelter under animal control in 2008 were $879,820.
(How much of that is overhead? How much is care? We’d all like those answers. We’ll never get them. How many of those 4005 strays were adopted? How many joined Michael Vick’s dogs in pet heaven? We will never be told.)
- The animal control fees paid collectively to the shelter in 2008 by the City of Allentown, the other 22 smaller municipalities, plus Lehigh County, amounted to $104,496, as follows: $39,000 from the City of Allentown, $42,996 from the 22 smaller municipalities, and $22,500 from Lehigh County.
- The difference between these two key figures is $775,324, which represents a substantial financial loss incurred by the LCHS, and for which the shelter had to use its own funds to pay for all of those animal control expenses. This huge loss can also be considered a burden borne by the shelter to subsidize the 23 municipalities, all of which have the complete obligation under state law to support the entire responsibility for animal control.
(Why then did the LCHS fight to keep any of the municipailties? Wouldn’t you think that they’d happily turn them all over the Peaceable Kingdom and others—who charge a fraction of what they did? And, why can PK charge so much less if LCHS was losing so much money at those high rates? How can a non-profit organization expend funds on its core purpose, funds contributed by donors, and call that a loss? Isn’t that why the misguided contributors gave funds because they thought that the LCHS was in the business of caring for homeless animals?)
- For years, the 23 municipalities in Lehigh County have paid fees to the shelter for animal control services that have totaled less than 12% of the expenses incurred by the LCHS to provide those animal control services. What a bargain! This one pertinent fact – less than 12% – can be translated into hundreds of thousands of dollars of unreimbursed expenses that the shelter has incurred and absorbed to subsidize the 23 municipal governments in each of the past few years, and to literally untold millions of dollars of unreimbursed expenses that the shelter has paid for over many years.
(Again, you would think the shelter would realize that they exist and get contributions for this very reason?)
“It is truly disappointing and saddening that, after observing the hard work performed over many years by the LCHS staff and volunteers to raise funds needed to pay for the municipalities' assigned responsibilities, the LCHS does not receive any thanks. Instead, we are urged by a few county commissioners and others (whose selfish ambitions and goals should be thoroughly scrutinized) that we should also spend the money in our modest investment portfolio to pay for the municipalities' animal control expenses. It's not enough that the dividends from that small portfolio are already being spent in subsidies to support the municipalities' obligations as dictated by the law. In fact, the national Humane Society in Washington D.C. (HSUS) recommends that all shelters should maintain, as a minimum in their investment portfolios or trust funds, an amount that is at least two times the shelters' annual operating expenses, and preferably three times. The LCHS is clearly on the low side of that recommendation with an annual operating budget approximating $1M. Truly, the LCHS shelter has been enormously generous to the municipalities for years. And now, when the shelter needs some financial relief, by asking for a modest increase in the fees that will cover only a small fraction of the expenses for which the municipalities in fact have 100% responsibility under state law, those who are legally responsible for the welfare of thousands of stray animals are looking elsewhere for someone to fulfill their obligations to support their animal control duties as assigned by PA law. We have urged the municipal government administrators considering alternative approaches to research and scrutinize carefully the issues and the alternative bids that they will probably solicit.”