Humane Society gets non-profit status back

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(Posted Nov. 16, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

After a year of reorganization, the Humane Society of Madison County is regaining its footing.

The organization’s most recent good news is the reinstatement of its 501(c)3 non-profit status, effective Nov. 2.

The reinstatement is the result of work done by a transitional board that took over operations in January in the wake of property tax and administrative troubles.

“We feel really good about where we are,” said Barb Niemeyer, a trustee on the transitional board.

The group spent the past 11 months cleaning up the Humane Society’s business operations and establishing structure for its governance. A top priority was to file property tax returns that had gone unfiled from 2011 to 2016. Working with the state, the organization incurred no penalties and owes no back taxes.

Reinstatement of the 501(c)3 status means contributors to the Humane Society can write off donations on their taxes. It also means the Humane Society has a better chance at attracting big donors and applying for grant funding, Neimeyer said.

The Humane Society’s operating expenses run between $12,000 and $15,000 per month. The county commissioners offset a little over $6,000 of those monthly costs. The organization relies on donations, fundraisers and grants to cover the rest. The group is looking into offering spay/neuter services and vaccine clinics as another source of revenue.

A membership drive has netted over $4,400 so far, and a recent fundraiser brought in $6,500, Neimeyer reported.

As the group continues efforts to bolster revenues, they asked the commissioners for a three-month advance on county funding. On Nov. 13, the commissioners approved the $18,540 request.

On the administrative side, the group has written handbooks for employees and volunteers. They hired a part-time executive director for $10,000 per year. Using donated funds, they also hired a marketing consultant.

They wrote bylaws and hold regular board meetings, a practice that had fallen by the wayside in recent years. A finance committee meets monthly to ensure the organization is in full tax compliance. Additionally, all records and accounting are now computerized.

On Nov. 13, the Humane Society held its first election of board members since the transitional team took over. The new trustees are: Amity Dee, Dan Hadden, Dr. Laurie Millward, Bill Quinn, Jake Ryan, Ron Smith, Lana Swartz, Brian Throckmorton and Hobart Van Hoose. They take office in January 2018.

The day-to-day business of the Humane Society–taking in and caring for stray cats and dogs, adopting them out, and reuniting pets with their owners–continues as it always has.

According to Megan Warner, the new executive director, the Humane Society has adopted out 198 dogs and 87 cats this year through Oct. 31.

The organization hired a veterinarian to visit the shelter regularly to review records, update the medical manual, oversee medical supply purchases, and see patients.

The group started a “mercy medical” fund to pay for major surgeries and medical care. Recent cases include a dog that was shot through the nose, a dog that suffered a chemical burn over 90 percent of its body, a leg amputation, and various hip and knee surgeries.

Warner also reported that facility upgrades this year have included the addition of six new outdoor kennels, installation of security cameras inside and out, and the donation of a new washer and dryer.

The Humane Society has taken part in several adoption events, including their own “Catapalooza” earlier this month at which 12 cats found their forever homes. The group also sends a trainer to work with local prison inmates who are preparing shelter dogs for adoption. The trainer created a basic training course and certificate for the inmates.

Helping to make it all of this happen, Warner said, are 77 volunteers who have contributed 2,712 hours of their time so far this year.

“There’s obviously a need for the Humane Society,” said David Dhume, county commissioner, after hearing what the group has been up to since its reorganization.

The Humane Society of Madison County is located at 2020 Plain City-Georgesville Road NE, West Jefferson, and online at www.hsmcohio.org.

Tax-deductible donations may be made out to “HSMC” and mailed to P.O. Box 777, London, OH 43140. For information on memberships, donations, or volunteer opportunities, call (614) 879-8368.

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