Donation gives boost to shelter

COLUMBIA CITY — Earlier this week, The Post & Mail received a press release from Mark Espich, president of the board of the Whitley County Humane Society, that they are facing a financial crisis. In a plea for public support to offset operating expenses, Espich praised the Whitley County Community Foundation for a recent grant given to help stabilize the shelter’s finances.“The economy has been particularly hard on our area’s non-profit organizations,” explained September McConnell, Community Foundation Director. “Last year’s campaign letter for support to the Humane Shelter brought in 50 percent fewer dollars than the year before. People who care about the organization and the animals have been pinched financially and don’t have the discretionary income to give. For an organization that must rely on charitable contributions, that kind of response can be devastating.”What they didn’t know at the time was that a local business, Advanced Assembly, had been working behind the scenes collecting items for the shelter at the plant located in Coesse.Thursday, Advanced Assembly presented the more than 700 items to Lindsay Pease, humane shelter director at the plant, to Pease’s undisguised appreciation. “This is huge,” Pease said. “It’s perfect timing. We were getting so low on things.”“Almost half of the monthly expenses of running the shelter are for payroll and the rest is overhead,” explained Espich. “We’ve recently cut paid staff as much as possible and utilize a lot of dedicated volunteers and community corrections workers ... The real expense comes in the costs we can’t control much, such as utilities and insurance,” he added. A new addition to the staff, Pease fulfills more than just her director duties. “In addition to her many qualifications, (Pease) is also a vet tech,” said Espich. “She is very knowledgeable in the field of animal health, in addition to showing great leadership qualities.”The Whitley County Humane Shelter takes in an average of 24 dogs and 21 cats on a monthly basis, caring for them and often nursing them back to health, according to Espich. In 2010 the shelter was instrumental in placing 384 animals in new homes and returning 74 animals back to their owners. The shelter held their annual auction Friday evening to raise funds, which in the past has brought in as much as two months worth of operating expenses.Anyone unable to attend and who would like to contribute to the cause may claim the contribution as a tax deduction. Checks may be mailed to: The Whitley County Humane Society, 951 South Line Street, Columbia City, IN 46725.