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Lehigh County Humane Society's own words show how out of touch they are

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.”

 
It is said that sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. What many people have asked for has been transparency into the actions of the LCHS. How many animals are taken in? How many are placed? How many are destroyed. The lies and propaganda could easily be countered by facts. However, the LCHS mismanagers don’t seem to want to speak to the truth or the facts.
 
Who are the zealots? Are they the county commissioners who asked for information and were refused? Are they the supervisors who asked for proof of what they were paying for and were refused? Or, are they the animal lovers who want a no-kill alternative? Isn’t that what we thought the LCHS was?
 
“The economic stresses caused by the recession, with which the entire community must be familiar, manifest themselves at the shelter in many ways: diminished donations, community members' reluctance to respond to fundraisers, home foreclosures and job losses that lead to noticeable increases in stray and abandoned animals, and to forcing pet owners to reluctantly relinquish their animals in order to eliminate their pets' veterinary expenses and food costs. In sum, the burden of animal control and caring for stray animals is up, and the vital flow of donations on which the shelter depends to survive is down. And when the stray animal problem throughout the county becomes more prevalent and pronounced, the costs of implementing animal control become much more burdensome.”
 
Translation: The LCHS has $2 million in the bank. Thankfully, those pesky laws only require them to keep the animals for 48 hours before they kill them. Kibble costs could reduce the nest egg!

“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?)
After some critical analysis of the impact of the economy on diminished donations, and on the pervasive home foreclosures and job losses that result in an increase in strays and animal relinquishments, and other fiscally threatening factors, the shelter management decided that it could no longer afford financially to perform animal control duties without some changes. The basic premises for our proposal to the municipalities for 2010 were that LCHS is still willing to continue to subsidize the legal responsibilities of the municipalities and to apply shelter resources to raise funds via donations, bequests and planned fundraising events (a truly difficult undertaking in a struggling economy), but only at a far more rational and reduced level of net expense. In fact, the shelter cannot sustain the current fee arrangements for animal control. A more reasonable and consistent contractual arrangement based on gradual annual fee increases must be negotiated.”
An even better idea might be to simply close the LCHS and have all those contributions diverted to groups interested in animals and not personal gain. As you read the egotistical, self-serving statements of the LCHS mismanagers, it becomes clear that the LCHS model is broken and should be fixed by those who care about animals.

“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.”

Maybe, it is time to humanely put the current LCHS to sleep!
“We cannot predict the future. However, we can hope that the planners of the Lehigh County Humane Society's 200th anniversary will look back at us and at our work and conclude that our efforts were not in vain, that our legacy is one of diligence, devotion, hard work and an unrelenting desire to improve the lives of the helpless and homeless animals that come to the Dixon Street shelter for care.”
Excuse me while I vomit. Helpless and homeless animals—over half of which will never leave your shelter alive.
Again, I call on the board of directors of LCHS to clean house and to adopt a pro-animal no-kill approach.
I call on the municipalities that use LCHS to stop forcing LCHS to subsidize animal control by REPLACING LCHS.
I call on contributors to divert contributions to no-kill shelters until them.
Maybe then all of the efforts to protect animals will not be in vain.

Comments

  • onevoice4animals 4 years ago

    Great article - all the facts that need to get out to the public.
    LCHS needs to be put down, not humanely either..they need to pay and stand accountable for their crimes. They are responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals. They know what they are doing. The animals that walk in the doors are a product to them, nothing more. It's a business. Bruce Fritch told me that himself. He added, "I don't have to stand accountable to anyone."
    He does however, and he will.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    This makes me sick that they treat animals as products and feel they don't need to be accountable. Get them OUT. Thank you for shining a light on this issue. I just noticed that this article was written over a year ago. Let's go everyone...rally to get them out FAST. Bring in people to manage who love animals and will implement no-kill practices.