Dear Shelter Supporters
We are hearing from some of the Commissioners about receiving your emails and phone calls - a few Commissioners stated they have only received a handful of emails. The Commissioners will vote on the county budget in a couple of weeks. They need to know what their constituents have to say about the shelter's request. PLEASE send them an email or place a phone call if you haven't already done so.
Monday's meeting is with the Budget Committee - The committee will make their budget recommendation to the full CLB at their next meeting - where they will vote on the final budget.
So you all have the same information we recently provided to the Budget Committee and all CLB Commissioners - the following is an updated overview of what this shelter means to the county and the reason for the budget increase.
PLEASE TAKE SOME TIME TO READ AND PLEASE PLEASE CONTINUE TO SHARE AND CONTACT YOUR CLB COMMISSIONERS - THANK YOU
• Friends of the Animal Shelter is responsible for animals recovered by the county’s animal control officer; animals that are owner surrendered; strays and injured animals brought to the shelter by third parties.
• The shelter uses industry state-of-the-art shelter management software that addresses all aspects of operations from the moment an animal enters the shelter through adoption. This includes medical; vaccinations; adoptions, spay and neuter, etc.
• As of May 26, 2021, there 158 animals in the care of the shelter. A great number of these animals are placed in volunteer – foster homes awaiting eligibility for adoption. Since July 1, 2020, almost 1100 animals have been adopted or transferred out of the shelter.
• Within the past few weeks, the shelter has established relationships with several out of state rescue organizations and is in the process of scheduling transfers to alleviate the number of animals in the care of the shelter and the foster network. This reduces operational costs and ensures availability of facility space for animal control enforcement.
• Over the past 18 months, there was an almost 100% turnover in the shelter’s board of directors and in all of the board’s officer positions. This new leadership has overseen the implementation of significant business process improvements; unprecedented improvements to shelter facilities and equipment condition; and recruited a talented staff of wage employees and dozens of volunteers.
• The shelter recently received national recognition by the Petco Love foundation and awarded a $10,000 grant. These funds will provide a no-cost spay and neuter voucher for residents of Cocke County. The vouchers will be distributed during the upcoming A&I Fair and limited to two per household.
• Ole Smoky Distilleries has donated funds for the renovation of the shelter’s cat room. Starting in March, they are now providing a percentage of all pet related items sold at their retail facilities.
• This year, the shelter has been featured in several “good news” stories in local print and Knoxville metropolitan area TV news. More than 10,000 people follow the shelter’s Facebook page. The shelter, and by extension Cocke County, enjoys a reputation for operating a first class animal shelter.
• In the past 28 days posts on the shelter’s Facebook page regarding pets available for adoption; courtesy posts for owner’s who are seeking a lost animal; spay and neuter events; etc., have reached almost 78,000 people.
• Friends of the Animal Shelter, Inc. is a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization.
• Revenue sources for the shelter are as follows:
o Cocke County government – $8,333 monthly, which is approximately 36% of fiscal year to date unrestricted revenue recorded.
o Shelter operations: donations for adoptions; strays reclaimed by their owner; spay and neuter; vaccinations; etc.
o Restricted Donations from benefactors used only for purposes designated by the donor. For example, Camping-Fur-Paws (property owned by the shelter board president) donates close to $7,000 in a fiscal year.
o Unrestricted Donations:
• Proceeds from Wags to Wiggles Thrift Store
• Fundraising – roadblocks, barbeque, t-shirt sales, etc.
• Donations made through Facebook or generously added at
time of adoption process.
o Total average monthly operating expenses, in this fiscal year to date is approximately $22,850.00 and further categorized in the following bulleted areas.
• Note: This does not include any expenditure necessary for new equipment purchased or other capital improvements – these expenditures are only possible through restricted donations from benefactors and would otherwise not be possible.
o The shelter paid staff consists of two full-time employees; the operations manager and the office manager; and eight part-time employees to operate the shelter from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. 7 days a week. All employees are wage-based employees with an average rate of $10.30 an hour ranging from the lowest of $9.50 an hour to the highest of $13.00 an hour. The employees do not get any fringe benefits such as health insurance; paid vacation or sick days. Fortunately, members of the board and Cocke County residents - without whom the shelter could not operate, donate hundreds of hours of volunteer labor to the shelter. Average monthly wages this fiscal year to date is $11,000.00
o Expenses for food, supplies, medicines, spay and neuter; vaccinations; microchips; routine veterinary care; etc., is approximately $6,600 a month this fiscal year to date.
• Fortunately, through the generous restricted donations from you and from a shelter benefactor, medical and veterinary charges for injured animals brought to the shelter by animal control or third parties, (not included in the amount) are paid in full.
o Other expenses such as utilities; building maintenance and repairs; insurance; professional services; fuel and maintenance of two transport vehicles; office supplies and other miscellaneous expenses account for the remaining average of $5,200 in this fiscal year to date expenditures.
Critical Need for Additional Operational Revenue
from the Cocke County Government
Prior to this fiscal year the shelter’s financial condition was bordering on insolvency. A board member had to lend money to the shelter in order to cover payroll expenses.
The Covid-19 pandemic ironically assisted the shelter in the number of individuals seeking to adopt animals. Now, unfortunately, the pendulum is swinging back and not only are adoptions slowing here and nationally, more animals are being surrendered now that people are no longer either working from home or finding new employment.
Thankfully, the shelter received a $30,100 payroll protection loan through the Small Business Administration. That loan was ultimately forgiven and has allowed the shelter to have $10,000 reserved for emergency expenditures. The balance of the loan proceeds have been, or are scheduled to make necessary repairs and replacement of facility equipment and structures. For example, this month we are replacing a commercial washing machine and dryer for $10,000.00.
As noted earlier, the shelter is now operating with industry standard animal/shelter management software. The donation/fee structure of the shelter has also been reviewed and updated. Relationships with animal rescue organizations and other cost saving changes to shelter operations are being implemented in an ongoing effort to make the shelter more fiscally efficient.
Realistically, it would be irresponsible and almost reckless, to enter the next fiscal year budgeting donations from road blocks; thrift store operations and the continued generosity of individuals making unrestricted donations at the same levels in this fiscal year. Moreover, there will not be any windfalls like the PPP loan that was forgiven to keep the shelter financially solvent.
The bottom line is that it would be almost impossible and likely not probable that the heroics of the current year’s unprecedented level of donations will be repeated. The shelter will not be able to meet its operational expenses and quickly erode the meager emergency fund that is now reserved. Not to mention, there will be no funding available for any capital improvements or equipment replacement.
Friends of the Animal Shelter will not be able to function as the animal shelter for Cocke County and will be forced to reorganize into some other aspect of animal welfare or humane society, leaving the county government to find alternative solutions for this government service.
The Board of Directors for The Friends of the Animal Shelter is a proud partner of the Cocke County Government in meeting our community’s animal control and shelter requirements. We are members of this community and we too appreciate the dire economic challenges we all face. We are eager to work with the mayor and commissioners on a contract for these services, knowing that the county is not in a position to fully fund the shelter’s operations. The board and it’s volunteers will continue to work tirelessly to raise funding to meet the deficit we know will be present in our budgeted revenue for the next fiscal year.