Humane Society handling more animals

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Humane Society of Charlotte performed over 9,600 surgeries in 2009 to spay or neuter cats and dogs, 540 more than in 2008, and it has set of goal of performing over 10,000 surgeries this year.

Still, at any given time, its clinic has a waiting list of at least several months, and hopes to reduce that through the recent hiring of a part-time veterinarian team.

Performing over 150,000 surgeries since its clinic opened in 1982, the Humane Society also placed over 1,900 cats and dogs in new homes in 2009, up 1 percent from the previous year, and has set a goal of placing over 3,000 animals this year.

The Humane Society handled the increase in services last year despite a round of layoffs at the end of 2008 to help cope with the impact of the recession.

Established in 1978, the Humane Society operates with an annual budget of roughly $2 million and does not receive federal, state or local taxpayer funding.

Instead, it counts on grants from foundations and corporations, and contributions from individuals, as well as revenue from special events, including Pet Palooza, its annual fundraising walk and pet festival, and a fall gala it held for the first time last year.

Pet Palooza, which this year will include a 5K run for the first time, will be held May 15 at Independence Park from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a rain date set for June 5.

The event, which last year attracted over 2,000 people and netted over $90,000, this year aims to net $120,000, says Donna Canzano, director of development.

The inaugural 5K run is named for Sarah Lynn Kennelly, who died Sept. 21, 2009, of metastatic breast cancer at age 50 and left a $25,000 bequest to the Humane Society.

Also for the first time, Pet Palooza has named a corporate chair for its walk.

The inaugural corporate-walk chair is Mike McGuire, national managing partner of industry and market development at Grant Thornton.

With a staff of 30 people and a core of 500 active volunteers, the Humane Society hopes in the next five years to begin planning a capital campaign to help fund a new facility, Canzano says.

The group leases the current facility, which was built in the 1950s and formerly housed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control, from the city and county.

The facility, which lacks modern features, can house 100 to 150 dogs and cats at any given time.

The local Humane Society is not part of the Humane Society of the United States and depends entirely on local contributions and support, as well as income from modest fees for services, Canzano says.

The group’s inaugural gala, which attracted 325 guests and 38 “canine companions,” netted over $85,000 last fall.

This year’s gala will be held Oct. 23 at The Westin Charlotte.

“As the largest private animal shelter in the area,” Canzano says, “we’re hoping to be able to meet the needs of people and their pets.”

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