The Belmont County Animal Rescue League isn’t going away, but it says changing the scope of services offered was necessary to remain financially viable.
While the organization issued a press release saying it remains committed to helping animals in Belmont County, it noted that community support was not enough to continue ongoing operations.
“It was a tough decision and it was purely financial. We are the oldest animal welfare organization in Belmont County. We haven’t lost our passion for helping and serving animals. not the finances to continue as we have been for the past three years,” said board member MaryEllen Gust.
Management cited a few examples to highlight financial issues:
Every animal that came to the rescue center was in crisis, which meant higher vet bills and often additional training to enable them to be responsibly adopted. Every animal saved meant a loss of income since adoption costs never matched rehabilitation costs.
COVID has not only created an influx of lifesaving cases, it has also eliminated the possibility of face-to-face fundraising events that were a cornerstone of fundraising efforts in the past.
County commissioners’ $10,000 stipend via last year’s memorandum of understanding for humanitarian officer services covered less than a third of the officer’s salary.
Operating costs for the rescue center averaged $25,000 per month.
There are many more animal welfare agencies in Belmont County than in other counties, and while that’s good for the animals, it spreads animal-related fundraising across more organizations, leaving the agencies compete for dollars.
After the last MOU expired, BCARL informed the Belmont County Commissioners that they had voted not to renew. They then notified local law enforcement. Under Ohio’s revised code, the task of responding to humanitarian complaints will now fall to the sheriff’s department and local law enforcement.
Over the next few months, BCARL will work diligently to have the animals adopted or sent to shelters to continue their rehabilitation and await adoption.
Gust says the road has been difficult.
“We would like to thank all of our volunteers, adopters and partner relief organisations. In addition, we would like to express our thanks to those who participated in fundraising and made a donation to support us financially. You have allowed us to do such important work over the past three years. Most importantly, we would like to thank our employees who have worked diligently to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate these animals in cases of abandonment, abuse and/or neglect,” she added.
In the future, BCARL hopes to continue offering certain types of services to the community in the form of emergency veterinary assistance, neutering and neutering programs, etc. There will be continuous updates in the coming months.