CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (HES) – The Humane Educational Society (HES) provided a presentation to members of the Hamilton County Commission today to request an increase in their annual funding to meet critical needs of the shelter.
Executive Director of HES Robert Citrullo, is concerned about the condition of the over 70-year old facility and how it is impacting the animals they care for and services they provide. The last year the shelter received an increase in funding was 2007. Citrullo noted that many areas of the building are not safe for staff due to asbestos, a basement that floods and electrical repairs that need to be made.
The shelter currently operates on a $395,255 annual budget or $3.82 per capita. By comparison, the Young-Williams Animal Center in Knoxville receives $3 million annually, while Nashville’s Metro Animal Services receives $2 million each year. In Hamilton County, the McKamey Center receives $1.6 million or $9.29 per capita to meet local needs within the 143 square miles of the City of Chattanooga. HES covers over 500 miles in the unincorporated and municipalities within Hamilton County.
“This funding will allow us to address basic needs, including additional staff as well as maintenance and repair of our current facility. The funding will in no way allow us to make many of the changes necessary at HES, but is critical to our viability. We have a business model and facility that are simply unsustainable,” said Citrullo.
“We must address major issues including clogged sewer lines, broken air conditioners, vehicles and lights. If we are unable to make these repairs, portions of our facility may be condemned.”
“Our current staff of 23 is at a dangerous level to adequately meet the needs of our community”, said Citrullo. “The increase will allow us to begin to meet critical needs and make repairs, while bringing up staffing levels.”
In 2014, the public surrendered 2,591 animals to the HES that included unplanned litters along with dogs and cats whose families can no longer afford to care for them. This year, their officers have answered 2,031 calls to date.
HES is requesting a budget of $620,970, which is $6.00 per capita and well under the $8.00 national average for shelters. Pending the approval of the funding increase from the commission, the shelter’s board is planning to launch a 3-year capital campaign for a new facility.
“Our building is in desperate need of maintenance and repairs. In order to be able to focus on our mission, we must address the critical issues at hand”, said Citrullo. “These funds will allow us to make these changes.”
To learn more about the Humane Educational Society, please visit www.heschatt.com.
Posted by Roscoe Bush