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Elmore SPCA facing financial woes

PERU Elmore SPCA is facing a major financial crisis and is turning to the community for help. Carol M. Solari-Ruscoe, secretary of the Elmore SPCA board of directors, said without community financial support, the facility won't be able to keep its doors open much longer. Our primary goal is to keep Elmore SPCA open and operational, she said. If we aren't able to generate more revenue, Elmore as a shelter may have to close in the next 18 months. According to Solari-Ruscoe, the facilitys operating expenses for the 2007 financial year were approximately $86,245, though the total revenue raised by the shelter was $63,767. The $22,478 loss, she explained, excludes the estimated $60,000 cost of building the new shelter on Arthur Road, to where the organization relocated in August. That money came from a separate building fund, she said. The reason for that move was that the previous shelter on Telegraph Street was in need of major and costly repairs from roofing to the buildings septic system and because it had become too small to house the growing numbers of animals which entered it, she said. The financial loss Elmore SPCA began facing last year has continued, said Solari-Ruscoe. Operating expenses from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 this year totaled $82,199.33, while revenues collected during that time totaled approximately $63,975. The result is a loss of more than $18,000. Hypothetically, if the shelters expenses and revenues continued to increase at the same rate, Elmore would still face an estimated $109,000 in expenses and $85,000 in revenues by the end of the year. Unfortunately, our revenues from See SPCA, page 18 SPCA From page 1 donations, adoption fees, and town contracts have been far less than our expenses, said Solari-Ruscoe. The cost of operating an animal shelter has increased in recent years, she said. Expenses for food, medical treatment, vaccines, spaying, neutering and prosecution of the rising number of animal cruelty cases are among the major increases, not to mention higher prices for heat and utilities. Each year brings new challenges, such as dealing with the increased number of homeless pets, in part, due to the economic downturn, she said. It is taking more money to adequately provide for every animal which enters the shelter. On average, it costs $26 a day to house each animal, which includes the occasional ferret, hamster or rabbit, said Solari-Ruscoe. The shelter is kept filled to capacity, with an average 40-60 animals at any given time, she said, amounting to approximately 400-500 animals that walk, crawl or are carried through its doors each year. The revenue the shelter receives comes from three primary sources adoption fees, donations and contracts the facility has with eight towns and the city of Plattsburgh to take in stray dogs. The board recently held an emergency meeting to discuss its financial situation, she said, which included reexamining the contracts. The evaluation of the fees was based on a number of factors, Solari-Ruscoe explained. The number of stray dogs brought by each town in the past 12 months, number of days dogs remain in the shelter before adoption, cost of food and veterinary treatment, and pay for the shelter workers were among the reasons, she said. We are obligated to take stray dogs from these towns, said Solari-Ruscoe. The SPCA doesn't know from week to week the exact number of strays which will enter the shelter. Other shelters such as the North Country SPCA in Westport and Adirondack Humane Society in Plattsburgh are facing similar capacity issues, she said, leaving the fate of the stray and unwanted animals unknown if Elmore closes its doors. If there was no Elmore, the fate of the hundreds of stray, abandoned, and abused animals would be in serious jeopardy, she said. That would be tragic for all the homeless pets we serve. Though the shelters contracts with the municipalities will be further examined, Elmore SPCA is hoping the community will step up to the plate with increased and consistent donations to keep the more-than-65-year-old organization in existence. While our financial situation seems daunting, it isn't bleak, said Solari-Ruscoe. With widespread community support of our mission to help and care for abused, neglected and homeless animals, and our goal to provide permanent, loving homes for animals in our care, our financial crisis can be turned around. However, that takes a genuine commitment of time and money, she continued. We are willing to put in the time and effort, but the shelter needs a major infusion of financial support very soon. Those interested in making a donation to the shelter may send contributions in care of Elmore SPCA to 510 Arthur Road, Peru N.Y. 12972. For more information, call the shelter at 643-2451 or visit their Web site, www.elmore.petfinder.com.

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