The Home at Last Humane Society in The Dalles has merged with Central Oregon Animal Friends, which took over management Jan. 1.
Central Oregon Animal Friends also runs a shelter in Madras, and the management team for both facilities is made up of some familiar faces, since Steve and Jerilee Drynan previously managed HAL before moving on to Prineville and then Madras.
Ray Swift, a board member of Central Oregon Animal Friends, said the old HAL board does not have governing duties anymore, but has been asked to remain as a fundraising arm of Animal Friends.
Animal Friends asked the City of The Dalles and Wasco County to each make a one-time $25,000 contribution, and also that the county deed the shelter building to Animal Friends.
The city council last night approved the request.
It is unknown when the county will take up the requests placed before it, according to Tyler Stone, county administrative officer.
It’s a busy time for the Drynans, since they are in the midst of building a new 5,500-square-foot shelter in Madras, which should be open in a month or so, said Swift.
Steve Drynan said in an email, “As with most mergers, some staffing changes are inevitable. We are in the process of training a new shelter manager at both shelters and have made some changes to the staff to better suit our needs.”
Central Oregon Animal Friends is made up of four members from The Dalles: Swift, Shannon Morgan, Paul Viemeister and Sheila Dooley.
“When we created Central Oregon Animal Friends, it was under the management of Steve and Jerilee Drynan, we kind of grabbed them,” Swift said.
Animal Friends approached Jefferson County some five years ago and asked to take over the county animal shelter in Madras. Since then, Animal Friends has had enough public support to build a new shelter, Swift said.
He said he was proud of the Drynans for agreeing to take on another animal shelter. “I know it’s very stressful for them running two at a time.”
He added, “We love the Drynans, because they went from a kill shelter to a brand new shelter [in Madras.]”
Swift said a lot of the old volunteers that once helped out when the Drynans ran Home at Last are “flocking back and helping because they remember how good it was when the Drynans were here.”
The animal shelter struggled with ringworm most of the summer, and Janna Hage, the founder of Home at Last, and Liz Polehn agreed to come back on a volunteer basis to tackle the problem. Hage said the ringworm was a symptom of the underlying problem, a lack of stable funding.
She said the facility couldn’t run on the backs of volunteers and a few annual fundraisers. The city and county previously provided more significant annual support, but some years ago Wasco County stopped supporting it financially, and the city of The Dalles gradually reduced its support also.
In 2012, for example, the shelter got $82,000 from the city and county, a cost they split evenly. It dropped to $26,000 the next year, and has continually reduced to where it gets about $11,000 per year now, solely from the city.
Hage and Polehn undertook a complete cleaning of the facility, which Hage said was in terrible condition, and rehomed many of the animals with other shelters. Hage and Polehn quit their volunteer work about a month later after clashing with the board.
The ringworm is gone now, except for one dog and one cat that still have it, Steve Drynan said.
The facility now has about 20 dogs and 20 cats, not counting animals being fostered in the community, Swift said.
Swift said the idea of having the Drynans take over the shelter in The Dalles came about when the board met in November.
“Because all of us live here in The Dalles, and like it or not, we kind of knew what was going on out there,” Swift said. “We knew it was stress and we certainly knew when Janna and Liz came in to see what was going on, that’s when we kicked in more.”
He said the board concluded, “We need to do it, we need to try.”