Operation of animal shelter beyond October is in doubt

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Good Shepherd Humane Society (GSHS) board of directors issued a statement Friday which warned that an on-going financial crisis threatened the animal shelter's operations beyond October.

The statement was issued following an informal workshop held by the board last Monday, when ongoing controversies surrounding the operation of the society were aired and attempts were made to formulate a plan of action that all directors could agree to, according to the GSHS press release.

"After a spirited discussion, the directors agreed that the care of the animals at the shelter facility was not in question and that, in fact, the shelter was being operated at a greater level of efficiency than has been seen in the past and that the treatment and care of the animals was the society's principal priority," the release continued.

(The board) "acknowledged that the onging criticism of the society is focused on the management of the board and concerns for the financial well being of the organization. As a result of the controversies surrounding the board, it was agreed that a financial crisis has been reached and that continuation of the shelter operations beyond October 2005 is highly questionable without the renewed support of the society and the community. Faced with the prospect of closing the shelter, the directors agreed that several actions needed to be initiated at the earliest possible time and that those actions should be presented to the membership and the community.

"At the last monthly meeting of the directors, they voted to hold a special membership meeting, but have determined that the number and complexity of the issues with which they are faced can only be properly addressed with additional preparation so that they can fully inform the membership and solicit input on the desires of the members. It was agreed that the special meeting of the membership will be held in lieu of the October 2005 monthly board meeting."

The press release said that the board would seek independent legal opinion on validity of employment contracts between the GSHS and managers of the Society Thrift Shop and the shelter manager. It said GSHS would complete required filings with the Missouri Secretary of State for the operation of the Eagle Rock (Mo.) Thrift Store and with the Arkansas Attorney General's office for the solicitation of funds, and insure that all non-profit corporation tax returns would be filed and copies made available for any interested party.

The board is working to prepare a financial overview for the membership which will include profitability of thrift store operations and review the financial impact of potentially selling the Eureka Springs Thrift Store property, obtaining a short term mortgage on the shelter property, or doing both with the goal of upgrading the shelter operation.

A membership survey will be sent to society members prior to the special meeting to guage members' feelings on a number of topics, including sale of the thrift shop, the resignation of the current board, membership satisfaction with a no-kill policy at the shelter, increase in membership dues and to gain commitments for volunteer work.

Results of the survey will be presented at the special membership meeting, and members are being encouraged to contact the society to insure their mailing address is on record. A self-addressed, stamped envelope may be sent to the society to receive the survey.

It was noted in the release that the 12-member board currently has five vacancies and faces the loss of another board member due to health reasons. New board nominees will be sought at the September board meeting.

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