Animal shelter struggles to keep afloat

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March 15, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Since the Allen County Animal Rescue Facility (ACARF) opened its doors roughly two and a half years ago business has been booming.
If only that were a good thing.
Truth is, almost since day one the animal shelter has been at capacity and can’t accommodate demand. Limited finances prevent expanding services.
A poll recently conducted by The Register asked if local governments should fund ACARF. Eighty-two percent of community members answered “yes.”
Out of 200 animal shelters in Kansas, only nine don’t receive county funding, including ACARF. 
To date, the shelter has served 815 dogs and 319 cats.
ACARF is currently in a contract with the cities of Iola and Humboldt, which give $85 to ACARF for every animal that is brought in by a city worker. If the animal has offspring, the city will pay $50 for each pup or kitten’s care.
ACARF receives nothing for animals brought in by community members. ACARF director Andi DePriest said they ask for donations in those instances. “Sometimes they give and sometimes they don’t. We don’t charge a fee though.”
The $85 from the city doesn’t even come close to keeping ACARF on top, DePriest said.
When an animal, six-months and up, is brought into the shelter it immediately gets its required shot, which cost $10. If it is a puppy it requires three shots.
The animal will also require to be dewormed each month until its adopted, which is an additional $10 a month.
DePriest said it costs $25 a day for labor, water, foot, etc.
The hiccup comes if the animal, which more times than not, needs to be spayed or neutered.
“You can almost guarantee the surgery will be above the $85,” DePriest said.
Iola requires owners to pay $95 to the city to reclaim their pet if a city employee brought it to ACARF. If the animal is brought in by a community member the pet owner will be required to pay boarding fees, $15 for the first day and $10 for each consecutive day. 
The fee for a city pet is the same as the adoption fee ACARF charges. The adoption fee includes the required microchip.
“We chose not to charge the boarding fees on a city pet,” DePriest said. “How could we do that?”
DePriest said the $95 fee sometimes deters pet owners from picking up their pets and usually the pet stays in the ACARF system.
Animals brought in by other city workers in Allen County pay an $85 fee per pet. Other city community members are only asked for a donation, but not required to do so.
Animals going into ACARF have to stay in quarantine for two weeks, during which time they are examined for illnesses and aggression.
ACARF is a low-kill shelter and will only use euthanasia if the animal is aggressive or is deathly ill.
Canine parvovirus, or parvo, is extremely common in Allen County. Most of the animals that are euthanized at ACARF have parvo.
Parvo is an extremely contagious virus affecting other dogs. Stray dogs can give it to pets that have a home.
“Parvo is so thick in Allen County. It accounts for most of our casualties,” DePriest said.
The illnesses, other complications and employment are paid for out of ACARF’s pocket.
ACARF is run by two full time veterinary technicians, one part time vet technician and DePriest. The rest of the help they receive is from volunteers and the Second Chances store, which has been able to give ACARF $26,000 in the time the second-hand store has been open.
From January 2012 to January 2013 ACARF’s total expenses were $140,596.56. Its net deficit was $14,828.76.

DEPRIEST and ACARF board members have approached county commissioners for financial aid but to no avail.
“This is not one of our core responsibilities,” veteran county commissioner Dick Works said.
Works said he has heard ACARF’s request for funding but believes there are other “human” needs that need to be put up against the needs of animals.
“It’s not a county organization. It didn’t start in the county,” Works said. “It started with volunteers.”
“When I balance the needs for animals and the needs for humans I tend to come down on the needs of the humans,” Works said.
New commissioner Tom Williams said he would be willing to listen to their needs.
“I would at least listen, but I tend to be pretty conservative,” Williams said. “I couldn’t tell you what my decision would be but I would be glad to listen to it and weigh the pros and cons. Money is getting tight. We have to be careful what we fund and what we don’t.”

DEPRIEST said ACARF has had a lot of success getting animals adopted, mostly out of state.
Two weeks ago owners residing in Texas picked up an animal from ACARF. Thursday, an animal went to a home in Maine.
The hits come from the ACARF website, Facebook and other animal adoption networking websites.
They are constantly looking for donations and new ideas for fundraising.
A golf tournament, Pars for Paws, will be hosted by ACARF on June 8 and DePriest said she is looking for sponsors and donors.
“I am constantly looking for new fundraisers and looking for volunteers,” DePriest said. “Just because you don’t have money doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. It also doesn’t mean you will be picking up feces all day, you can work fundraisers.”

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