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Guest Column: Get facts about HAL firsthand, get involved



Once again The Chronicle has allowed an uninformed public citizen to provide commentary on a subject they have taken no time to research (guest column on Nov. 16). There is always more to the story. Adding this misleading commentary to the misleading article a week ago could potentially have life and death consequences for the animals in our community.

Ms. Kaser, the writer of the guest column asks a number of questions: Whose responsibility should it be to care for the animals that pass through the shelter? Why are so many animals passing through the shelter in such a small community? Who is actually in charge? What can be done short term? What support and structure does the shelter need long term?

Ms. Kaser was right when she said this is a major public problem that affects the livability of our community.

My question to the writer and any others who are inclined to continue the negative attacks on social media and the newspaper: What are you doing to help? Have you gone to a HAL Board meeting to get the actual facts and offer your support?

• The public is welcome to attend Home at Last Board meetings held the third Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. (locations may vary so call HAL for information).

• The real heroes of the shelter are the shelter staff who show up each day, working for minimum wage and doing the very best they can with limited resources.These are the folks who foster sick and injured animals at home on their own time.

The Board is a group of volunteers who work full-time jobs besides spending many hours a month helping the shelter.

These are the folks who continually ask the community for help, but continue to do their very best to take care of the animals.

• Facebook and the HAL website have requests for special needs as well as on- going requests for volunteers and supplies. Most of these needs have to be fulfilled by board members who already have full time jobs.

• The shelter board would love enough stable public funding to hire a paid director with salary and benefits.

The shelter board would love to provide benefits to the staff. The shelter board would love to have enough funds to hire paid staff beyond the animal care technicians. All of these things require a level of funding HAL has not been able to obtain.

The board and the staff do as much fundraising as they are able to. Volunteers stepping forward to organize fundraising events would go a long way to increase the revenue of the shelter.

• Home At Last already works with local and regional shelters to give or take animals when an overcrowding situation arises for any of the shelters.

• Oversight of the shelter operation can be done very easily by attending the public board meetings. Plans, goals, policies, procedures and the budget are all topics of discussion.

• Facility improvement is right at the top of the list for the shelter board. But without community financial support, volunteers and grant funding, the improvements have to take a back seat to the daily care of the animals.

• The recent crisis bravely dealt with by the HAL board and staff was a combination of many things going back a couple years.

When PAWS donations and public support falls, staffing and services at the shelter have to be adjusted to ensure the animals are cared for.

Spring and summer 2017 saw the number of animals animal control/law enforcement brought in almost triple. The funding was not there to increase the staff.

• The HAL board and staff are not there for the attention. They are hard-working, dedicated folks doing their very best to care for animals that come into their care. They are there for the animals and do not quit when things get tough.

So, before attacking a non-profit for things you perceive to be wrong — get involved. Get the facts firsthand and find a way to help make it better. Attend a HAL Board meeting and ask what you can do to help.

— Kathy Norton is a former board member for HAL and long-time volunteer.



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