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Longmont Humane supporters will lose their hair to keep shelter alive

Some backers will go bald for Longmont Humane Society
Some backers will go bald for Longmont Humane Society

As the Longmont Humane Society continues to struggle to meet its annual loan payments, a group of residents is literally pulling its hair out to help.

About 60 people belonging to a group called Hair4Hounds is raising money in a variety of ways to help Longmont Humane ( meet ita annual payment of $772,000 due in November.

One fundraising effort involves eight members, including Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs, getting sponsorships to cut their hair off in November.

"Quite simply, we’re a group of people who believe that when a local institution – in this case the Longmont Humane Society – needs our help, we help," said Jacob Hall, a chiropractor who is handling publicity for the group. "So… we’re using our heads as well as our hearts, and shaving our hair off as soon as we reach $100,000!"

The group's efforts get a warm endorsement from Liz Smokowski, the humane society's executive director who has been battling to keep the shelter solvent. "That $100,000 would help a lot," she said.

When Smokowski took over at Longmont Humane, she faced a tough situation. Construction cost overruns from the shelter's expansion that began in 2006 and six years of financial deficits drained the organization's reserves, leaving the society unable to make its 2013 and subsequent annual loan payments.

According to the Longmont Times-Call, the cost of the expansion was forecast to be about $8.2 million but came in at $9 million by the time it opened in January 2009. Donations decreased starting in 2007 following the economic downturn, and operating costs increased once the expansion was completed due to higher utility costs and expenses associated with the care of more animals, according to the newspaper.

The shelter changed leadership and launched a fundraising campaign, "The Longmont Humane Society: Serving the Community Now and Forever," seeking gifts to achieve the organization's immediate and long-term goals.

The shelter made its 2013 deadline and Smokowski said Monday it had raised $325,000 toward its $722,000 payment due this Nov. 30. She said she's been working with banks to make sure the deadline is met. Payments will also be due the next three years.

Meanwhile, Hair4Hounds has called out the troops to help.

"We’re just concerned citizens from all walks of life," said Hall. "People who care about animals, our community and preserving an organization that has given so much to Longmont.

"Our success rate is remarkable – 95 percent of all our animals are successfully placed, and in 2013 the Humane Society did not make the choice to euthanize a single healthy animal."

Hall said the group has "a whole raft of other events planned over the summer – so keep your eyes open for some crazy stunts that will leave you itching to write a check to Longmont Humane Society!

Reach them at ( Tell 'em Jacob sent you.

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