Barry Heim, director of the Pike County Humane Society, says the needs of the animal rescue society are extreme. “We need a steady stream of funding if we are to survive in this bad economy,” Heim said at the meeting of the Shohola Township board on July 14.
“Economic conditions for humans and animals are dire. Many have lost their homes. Some people are living in their cars. You wouldn’t believe it. When that happens to people, they usually abandon their pets and then we get a call.”
In 1998, the Pike County Commissioners gave about $3,000 a year at a time when 50 animals were being handled, he said. “Over two years, we handled 1,895 animals in distress,” he said. “We take in all domesticate animals, farm animals—we even had a peacock in a tree in Masthope and an emu that was loose in Ranchland. If it’s loose, we get the call, and refuse no one.”
The society used to get 60 or 70 strays a year; now they get that many in a month, he said.
The county increased its contribution by $1,000, while the increase in animals handled grew by 1,200 percent, he said. “The present commissioners in Pike are not animal friendly,” Heim said.
The cost of taking in a stray animal that is not vetted is around $178, with spaying, neutering, anti-rabies shots, vaccinations and microchips for identification, he said.
In the shelter at present were 45 dogs and 65 cats, he said. Adoptions of a healthy, young dog with all required shots costs $200. There is no charge for a cat that will go into a good home. Only 8% of stray cats get adopted, Heim said. The shelter does not euthanize.
The society receives about $15,000 a year through the state through licensing fees but that isn’t enough to overcome its problems.
“We are branching out into Monroe County because of the lack of funding from Pike County,” Heim said. “We’re setting up a meeting with the Council of Governments down there to see if we can get more contributions.”
The society has eight employees counting Heim; three are full-time and five work part-time. About 15 people are currently volunteers at the center. “We could use a lot more volunteers,” he said.
Shohola Township board said it would welcome a proposal from the society based on cost per residence to help defray some of their costs. “We’re going to have to visit all the townships if we want to stir them up,” Heim said.
“A lot of good people donate food to us, but it’s money we need,” Heim said.
“After being in business for 13 and a half years, we should be passed this,” he said. “Until we get some regular funding, we’re not able to do any of this and we’ll have to close. We have no alternative.”