Healdsburg Shelter Threatens to Kill Animals Over Money

The Healdsburg Animal Shelter in CA is a hot mess.  The outdated facility is located across the street from a new $3.5 million shelter, built using funds from a single donor, which sits empty due to design defects and may have to be torn down.  Resignations and controversy have plagued the shelter.

Despite boasting a 94% save rate, Healdsburg is now threatening to kill shelter pets due to a drop in donations.  Which will no doubt encourage donors to whip out their wallets.  I mean, who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to throw money at people who threaten shelter pets with violence, amirite?

The Healdsburg shelter’s board of directors says the cost per animal is more than $750.  This seems awfully high to me.  By comparison, the Cornelius Animal Shelter in NC has a 97% save rate and spends $96.79 per animal handled.  The Foothills HS in Polk Co, NC saves 99% of its animals, spending $342.85 per animal handled.  And the Alleghany Co shelter in NC has an 87% save rate at a cost of $92.25 per animal handled.

Why is Healdsburg spending so much money per animal?  Does the shelter need to replace someone who green lights expenditures?  Has an audit been performed to track where all this money is going?  Can they learn from other shelters who are spending significantly less to save approximately the same ratio of animals?  All of these questions should be answered before anyone threatens to kill shelter animals to lower costs.

The new facility sitting vacant, the threat to kill animals over money and the extremely high amount of money being spent per animal are all red flags to me.  I hope Healdsburg taxpayers and donors get answers.

(Thanks Eucritta for posting about this shelter in the last Open Thread.)

16 thoughts on “Healdsburg Shelter Threatens to Kill Animals Over Money

  1. I don’t know what the Cornelius stats were for 2012, but in 2011, they transferred 195 of their 434 intake to the high-kill Charlotte-Mecklenburg pound (this according to a Cornelius AC officer).

    1. The 2012 stats are available at the link. If they are transferring pets to pet killing facilities and listing them as adoptions, that is dishonest to my mind, even as the NC state report is poorly constructed.

      On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM, YesBiscuit!

      1. I don’t think they are trying to be dishonest, it’s just an artifact of the form. When I looked at their 2011 stats and noticed the discrepancy between total intake and outcomes, I e-mailed them and an AC officer responded and explained the discrepancy to me and stated that they did not have the means to euthanize at their site — ergo, presumably, the transfers. In looking at their 2012 stats, there are 108 unaccounted for out of 365 cats and dogs, but I cannot say specifically that those animals all went to C-M because I haven’t verified that.

      2. Yes, the NC report is very poorly constructed, because the only outcomes are adoption, owner reclaim and killed. So everyone just reports other outcomes wherever they want, or not at all. I’m bummed to discover about the kill transfers. I’ll make a note on the stats.

      3. My thinking is that any shelter that transfers pets to other facilities has an OBLIGATION to follow up on the outcomes of those pets so they may be reported accurately. Otherwise, it’s dishonest to simply list transferred animals as adopted if you don’t know that for a fact. Regardless of the construct of the state form.

  2. They did not list the animals as adopted — if you add the total dispositions for both the 2011 and 2012 reports, you will see that the totals do not correspond. That’s because, As Lisa said, there is no place on the form to list transfers. If you contact the shelter itself, rather than just relying on the form that does not allow for full reporting, they are quite open about where their animals go — or at least they were when I inquired about the 2011 stats. As far as I know, Cornelius Animal Shelter has never claimed to be No Kill, and in fact they freely acknowledge that they are not.

    1. The form, faulty as it is, allows for full and honest reporting if the director is doing his job and following up on the outcomes of all transfers. Animals not included in the totals are typically animals on hand. It would be dishonest to simply not report transferred animals. At any rate, I think we’ve exhausted this side topic. Let’s move on please.

  3. Hi Yesbisquit,
    This has been a very sad 18 months for the animals in Healdsburg. A building very poorly built and stuck in a big lawsuit. I’m not sure about the statistics for Healdsburg since the lawyers refused any record request to confirm the numbers on their website.

    All of us in Sonoma County are very concern about the animals in the Shelter at this point and as a community will do whatever we need to do to make sure those animals that are currently in the Healdsburg Shelter will remain safe and alive. The other No Kill Shelters will provide for their welfare, including finding them homes if this Shelter needs to shut down due to financial reasons.

    1. It has just been announced that the Healdsburg Animal Shelter will close at the end of the month. Vickie and others who have campaigned relentlessly against the shelter now have their wish. If it turns out as predicted that animal sheltering for Healdsburg will be taken over by Sonoma County Animal Care and Control, however, then we can expect to see the kill rate for Healdsburg rise sharply.

  4. Here’s today’s article on the closedown:

    It’s been my hope that out of this, there might be some actual information on the shelter’s direction and finances. That doesn’t look like it’ll happen. That they gave up so quickly on donor support suggests to me that they knew it wasn’t forthcoming.

    This probably will throw ACC and shelter services for Healdsburg onto their local police and Sonoma Co. ACC, which is also in transition and has long had a troubling relationship with transparency.

    1. It seems hard to believe they would shut down with that $3.5 million building sitting there. The issues with the building will either be fixed or they will get their money back from the insurance company presumably. Then Healdsburg will have either a new shelter facility or millions of dollars. What will they do w/either?

      On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM, YesBiscuit!

      1. The new facility has a cracked foundation, I remember reading, so it’s unlikely to be easily fixable, and the people who built it are in bankruptcy. While it was being built, I also heard some scuttlebutt that it was too small for the numbers of pets the shelter already had in residence at the old place, too.

        For some context, as well, Healdsburg is a small and wealthy community in the wine country – so we’re not talking about rural poverty here. Heck, the fact the shelter got by for any length of time at all at over $700 per pet is proof of that.

  5. YesBiscuit, I’m curious on where you go your information on HAS threatening to kill animals if they don’t raise enough money to continue operations. I know sensationalism sells, but i think that’s stretching it a bit. Just because they’re closing doesn’t mean they’re gonna kill their animals.

    Living here in Sonoma County, and having strong ties to the animal welfare community, and having been the Vet Tech at HAS for a few years prior to their current mess, I have seen nothing in the media about your allegation. In fact, HAS has reached out to local shelters and rescue groups (including mine) to help find their animals homes. Unless I missed something, I believe your posting is way off base.

    Regarding the new shelter, it was constructed poorly. That’s all agreed on. And it is in litigation. However, the building will house 33% more animals than the current shelter. So that’s also off base.

    Regarding cost per animal, I’m not sure how HAS calculates this, but I know that my medical costs when I was Vet Tech averaged about $18/animal. Add food and other animal-specific costs, and I’m sure it’s no greater than the average shelter.

    Now, just so you understand, I’ve had my differences with HAS, and I left over policy issues (whgich I won’t get into here). But I think the truth needs to be told… even if it’s not sensational.

    1. I don’t do sensationalism Darryl. Read the linked article for the answer to your question.

      “Feagles said the shelter suffered a $120,000 net operating loss last year and $100,000 in 2011.

      He said the euthanasia rate may have to go up.

      “If it doesn’t have the financial support to be the low-mortality shelter it presently is, it will have to change its mission,” he said.”

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