Thus, to preface this letter, I strongly encourage all readers and reporters to come to us with any questions or concerns about any matter. We deeply appreciate hearing any and all feedback – negative or positive – but prefer to hear it directly rather than through the filter of a reporter’s viewpoint. You can reach us at 970/626-2273 or my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the concerns that the reporter highlights relative to our new mission statement appears to result from confusion between a mission statement and a goal. She in fact refers to earlier versions of our mission as our “goal.” Changing our mission statement does not mean that we have changed our goals. The Second Chance founders had the goal of a shelter for the community. We have had a shelter since the fall of 2004. But this is not our mission, it is a goal. Building a new shelter has never been part of our mission statement and I would argue against it being the only goal of the founders of the organization.
Updating our mission statement in no way means that we are not acutely focused on getting a new shelter built. Building a new shelter continues to be a goal of high priority, but not our ultimate mission. A new shelter is a necessary goal that will help us toward our greater mission – one that incorporates responsible pet parenting and the human-animal bond. We shelter pets temporarily, but more importantly we work to improve their entire lives.
Our intentions in updating our mission statement were simply to have it better reflect the breadth of our collective goals and to make it easier to communicate – the previous one was overly wordy and difficult to repeat when addressing a private donor, foundation, or even a community member on the purpose of our organization.
Another reporter error I would like to correct regards our current shelter capacity - reported as being around six dogs. The following statement is taken directly out of a press release submitted to this reporter in June of 2008: “Additionally with minor remodeling of our dog areas we have increased our capacity for dogs from 5-6 of two years ago to the current number of 8-10+. Our current quarters, although tight and not ideal, prevent us from ever having to turn away a stray animal found within our service region.”
Currently Second Chance Shelter averages 10 dogs in-shelter and 5+ in foster care (as well as about 30 cats in-shelter and in foster homes). We never refuse stray pets from our service region (Ouray and San Miguel County) and we regularly take in pets from Montrose County (particularly from the underserved areas of Naturita/Nucla) as well.
It is not clear why your reporter chose to include our revenue without reporting our expenses when that information was equally available from the same source. Presenting revenue without including the expenses involved in running a shelter, a thrift shop and providing numerous community programs and service is misleading.
Thus, I offer current information from our 2009 budget. This budget projects a total income of $489,839 ($327,949 after the deduction of Thrift Shop operating expenses and fundraising costs). Budgeted expenses for 2009 are $486,020. After the deduction of Thrift Shop operating expenses and fundraising costs, the remaining expense budget of $324,130 is dedicated to animal care (60 percent), community services and programs (19 percent), administrative payroll (14 percent) and business operating costs (7 percent). And although your reporter complimented us in stating we are a “fundraising powerhouse” the reality is that our major income sources are the Thrift Ship (63 percent), grants (13 percent), and donations (8 percent), while fundraising amounts to about 6 percent.
Additionally, your reporter falsely stated that our meetings are closed to the public. About a year ago I had clarified this point with this reporter who wrote to me with multiple questions, one being: “Why are your meetings closed to the public?” My documented response was: “This is actually not the case. Our meetings are closed only during executive session and we often have in attendance either invited guests or guests requesting to address the board.”
Thus, to reiterate, our meetings are open to the public and to further emphasize this, we will be posting our board and community meetings on our website (www.secondchancehumanesociety.org). I would also like to point out that as a private nonprofit corporation we are not required to hold public meetings – but we choose to do so. We greatly value and encourage all public input and feedback and have never turned anyone away from any of our meetings.
Regarding our membership meetings, in preparation for the June 3rd meeting, we sent direct invitations to all current members (187 in total). These meetings are also open to any interested community member, newspaper reporter, editor, etc. Additionally, we are discontinuing formal annual membership meetings in favor of more regular community meetings.
The article states: “some question the decision not to move forward with the construction of an animal shelter in Ridgway.” Second Chance has not made such a decision. We did announce in a press release last fall that, “It was collectively decided by the board and senior staff to postpone the [capital fundraising] campaign until the economy stabilized. Attempting to move forward with the campaign was not seen to be in the best interests of the community or the organization.”
We felt it would be disrespectful of the economic hardships that the community was facing to initiate a capital campaign at that time. We also concluded that it would be difficult to raise the amount necessary during national economic duress and we would be again exciting the hopes of the community to build a shelter that we were not able to afford.
However, if the community at large is feeling that this truly is the time to move forward, despite the economic challenges we are all facing, we need to know this and we need to work together to find ways to make it happen. Our greatest obstacles to building a new shelter remain funding the construction, securing future funding for the more costly operations of a larger shelter, and securing land that provides adequate space and sufficient noise barrier to adjacent properties.
As stated previously, no one is more anxious to build a new shelter than the board, staff, and volunteers of Second Chance. We are listening, and we are grateful as always to our community that holds such a passion for the welfare of our homeless pets and to seeing the new shelter become a reality. And again, please share your thoughts and your concerns directly with us regarding any of this information, using the contact information above.