HONESDALE – The Dessin Animal Shelter is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funding.
The shelter, which has been serving the county for over 46 years, announced today it's having trouble staying afloat with a shortage of operating funds.
Dessin depends on donations, grants, bequests and fundraisers.
According to the release, the shelter was fortunate to receive one fourth of their budget in bequests and memorial contributions, something which hasn't occurred this year.
The shelter doesn't receive funding from national groups like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and they also don't receive funding from municipalities, townships or boroughs in Wayne County.
The release stated the county traditionally administers a $3,500 yearly grant to Dessin, but it “barely covers one-tenth of one month’s operating costs (three days) and, because of the tepid economy, donations and grants have fallen off.”
If the shelter can't get adequate funding to provide services to the county, the municipalities and the county will have to find some way to provide those services at their own cost.
Dessin also provides many other services to the county.
They sponsor discounted rabies clinics that allow pet owners to vaccinate their pets at a cheaper price than they would at a veterinary hospital.
Over 2,500 animals are vaccinated through Dessin's clinics each year. Veterinarians from several clinics donate their time to administer the vaccinations.
Dessin also offers a low cost spay and neuter program for household pets and feral cats. They also hold microchip clinics to ensure pets are returned safely to their owners in an event they are lost.
“In animal abuse or hoarding situations, or like the recent incident in Newfoundland, following a meth lab raid, the state police call on our certified Pennsylvania humane society police officer to take charge of any animals involved,” the release states.
“The officer is an employee of Dessin and her salary, certification costs, as well as any expenses derived from investigations is entirely funded by Dessin.”
The shelter also helped in getting a humane officer certified to conduct animal cruelty investigations for the citizens in Pike County.
Dessin pays for the medical care often needed in these cases. When court cases related to these incidents are needed, the animals must be kept in protective custody.
Dessin takes care of those animals without reimbursement. The release also said the shelter doesn't receive any money from fines levied on those cited or convicted.
Last September, Dessin handled a hoarding situation that was later called “the Waymart 55.” All of the animals were brought to the shelter and most needed medical care while others were pregnant.
Dessin has also helped rescue many horses, goats, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds throughout the year.
Dessin also has a companion animal pet food pantry in cooperation with faith based groups’ food pantries to help supplement the dog food and cat food for senior citizens.
The shelter takes in animals dropped off by the state police when owners pass away, when people move and can't have a pet in their new home and all stray dogs brought to them by Pennsylvania state dog wardens.
“All of this tugs at our hearts, too, as we see the sheltering costs going up and the available funds going down,” Dessin explained in the release.
Dessin has two organization salaried employees, one additional full-time shelter employee and six part-time employees.
The 12 board members are volunteers and there are many volunteers who help out at the shelter.
“All of our fundraising events are manned by members of the board and energetic volunteers, including staff who volunteer on their days off,” Dessin explained.
Operating costs for heating fuel and electricity are heavily affected by the weather. Last winter brought on a huge financial burden to everyone including Dessin.
The shelter also runs the Cat's Pajamas, which is a thrift store on Main Street in Honesdale.
The store accepts gently used items of all kinds, household items, adult and children’s clothing, toys, jewelry and smaller furniture.
The items are then sold for a bargained price. All funds raised help pay for the care of the shelter animals.
Dessin always accepts donations of food and cat litter, but their immediate need to stay open is “steady dependable cash donations of every size coming in monthly to help close the gap between basic costs and limited available funds.”
The shelter has expenses that total approximately $35,000 per month, but with lack of funding their income is around $25,000.
“Times are tough and we are feeling it along with everyone else,” said the release, “but how do we explain that to a dog or a cat coming through our doors, abused and sickly or lost and panicked?
“They cannot speak for themselves and there is nowhere else for them to go.”
Dessin said they are going to try their hardest to stay open, even if it's one dollar at at time. They hope it isn't too late.
If Dessin is forced to close its doors this fall, Wayne County will lose all services above.