Central Missouri Humane Society funding remains in question

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Supporters of the Central Missouri Humane Society turned out Tuesday night in hopes of persuading the City Council to increase its budget for the animal shelter.

The city budgeted $1o0,000 to pay for animals picked up by the city's animal control this year. The shelter and its supporters asked the council to provide an additional $79,000 next year to help pay for animals the shelter receives from residents.

Mayor Darwin Hindman opened the floor for a public hearing so that the council could receive input from representatives making proposals before the budget is finalized, which will possibly happen at the next council meeting.

About 30 people attended the meeting in support of the Humane Society, and four representatives spoke on behalf of the shelter, including board member Chris Koukola and Executive Director Patty Forister.

Although Forister said the additional funding would be used only for animals from Columbia and Boone County, council members Jerry Wade and Laura Nauser expressed concerns that local taxpayers would be subsidizing services provided for other counties and cities that use the Humane Society.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe asked if the shelter had asked other cities and counties they work with for additional funding as well. Forister said that they had not, since most of the animals that end up at the shelter are from Columbia.

Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala suggested that about $20,000 could be taken from last year’s council reserves and given tothe Humane Society but that there would be “strings attached,” suggesting that the money would go to the shelter’s spay and neuter program. Forister said the Humane Society would be open to discussing this proposal.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Forister noted that Columbia is the Humane Society’s “biggest customer,” with 45.8 percent of the shelter’s animals coming from within the city.

The Humane Society has looked at shelter models in 16 comparable cities, Forister said, and 75 percent of those cities either had only a municipal shelter, run by the city, or a society shelter in conjunction with a municipal shelter.

Forister said the Humane Society does not wish to split with the city, but the shelter needs to consider alternative business models. The root of the society’s financial situation is dealing with too many animals, she said, and the next logical step is to reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter.  

Having two shelters in the city would be one way to decrease intake numbers, Forister said. Another would be restricting the number of strays the society would take from within the city. Forister said the survival of the organization has to come before the needs of an individual animal.

“We’re kind of known as a bunch of bleeding hearts,” Forister said. “But we also have to be fiscally responsible.”

Forister said the shelter has streamlined operations by reducing business hours and charging a $20 intake fee for animals. Without adequate funding, she said, the shelter might have to cut services and programs, such as foster care or volunteer programs.

The shelter also hopes to continue to receive donations. “Donors have been the ones supporting the shelter all along,” Forister said.


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Charles Dudley Jr September 9, 2009 | 4:28 a.m.

>>> Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe asked if the shelter had asked other cities and counties they work with for additional funding as well. Forister said that they had not, since most of the animals that end up at the shelter are from Columbia. <<<

I call B.S. on Forister's comment because when I did work there CMHS took in animals from alot of other counties in twos and threes quite often. Maybe it has changed but that is probably due to the over crowding conditions.

I think the City should just create it's own dog pound and manage it itself to get away from all of these issues of dealing with CMHS once and for all. Then they could partner with M.U. Vet School which would be a huge plus plus for both.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 9, 2009 | 7:54 a.m.

This election year, one slogan should prevail:

Say Yes to CMHS!

So when you vote for mayor, council member, or presiding commissioner in 2010, be sure they can all comfortably say,
"I Said Yes to CMHS!"

Because if a community can't properly care for its animals, how on Earth can it properly care for its people?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 9, 2009 | 9:54 a.m.

Columbia Heartbeat if the city cannot come up with needed the money to support it's own employees and needed work projects that keep this city running 24/7/365 how is it supposed to come up with the money for CMHS?

Oh we have a paradox of sorts it seems don't we.

I tend to like my idea a lil better the more I think about how Ray Shapiro has been presenting it and let CMHS merge with Second Chance so they can work as a better over all agency.

(Report Comment)

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