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Humane Society considers new operating models

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA – The Central Missouri Humane Society discussed on Tuesday proposed changes to how it operates, including the possibility of allowing fewer animals. The board of directors hasn't made a decision.

It is looking at these changes in response to an assessment of business practices last year, as well as budget deficits. The Humane Society’s board of directors is looking at options that might allow the society to save money and provide better care to animals.

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The assessment, conducted by SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, said the society takes too many animals with too few resources.

The Humane Society operates as an open door shelter, meaning they never refuse an animal.

Executive Director Patty Forister presented four alternative business models to the board at its meeting Tuesday.

  • The first option: Continue to operate as an open door shelter, while assessing operations to make this operation more successful.
  • The second option: Operate as an open door shelter to a smaller area. The society accepts animals from several cities and counties in mid-Missouri.
  • The third option: The society would be able to turn away animals depending on the amount of space available.
  • The fourth option: This would change the mission of the society. Much like Columbia Second Chance, the society would accept animals from their owners but not stray animals. The board agreed this option is the worst.

The board agreed that a hybrid option would be the ideal scenario. To help it make the decision, it will again be calling upon SCORE.

SCORE performed a study looking at comparable shelters and alternative operating procedures. The report and an update from the society were released to the public late last week.

The Humane Society has implemented some of SCORE’s suggestions, including reducing hours and collecting the full fee for animal drop-off.

The shelter avoided deficit in 2008 after implementing the suggestions. Projections for 2009 suggest it will continue to stay in the black.

The board also appointed a committee to assess adoption guidelines. In an effort to increase animal turnover, the board presented possible changes to the guidelines two weeks ago. The changes were met with harsh criticism from the society's staff, volunteers and foster care providers.

The committee is expected to deliver suggested adoption guidelines to the board by Dec. 22.


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