HERMITAGE — This year presented some unique challenges for the staff at the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter, although it never stopped providing services.
The animal shelter board adopted a 2021 budget Tuesday.
Board President Duane Piccirilli called the budget a conservative spending plan when taking into account COVID-19-related losses this year and uncertainty next year.
The shelter has had 150 adoptions of both dogs and cats so far this year, with few if any additional adoptions by year’s end. That’s a decrease from last year’s total of almost 225 adoptions.
Director Angelia Sherman said the decrease was due at least partly from the shelter’s pandemic-forced closure from March through May.
During the closure, the shelter was unable to generate adoption revenue, but staff had to continue caring for animals and handle animal-control calls for the shelter’s member communities, Sherman said.
Another blow to the animal shelter’s revenue – though not directly tied to the pandemic – was a reduction in fees the animal shelter receives from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for every animal adopted out. This year those fees dropped from $40 to $5 per animal, Piccirilli said.
However, the animal shelter was able to recoup some of its lost revenue. It received $10,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding from the Mercer County Commissioners.
“The funding from the county commissioners was a blessing. That helped us get in the black,” Piccirilli said.
The shelter’s board increased dog fees from $165 to $200 and cat fees from $100 to $125, earlier this year. Though not a “significant increase,” Sherman said the increased fees will help cover some costs since the animal shelter makes sure all animals are spayed, neutered and given veterinary treatment before being adopted.
The treatment was often expensive, Sherman said,
“Some animals can cost thousands,” she said.
These budget concerns won’t necessarily affect the animal shelter’s efforts to raise funds for a new building. All the building funds collected so far are being kept separate from the shelter’s operating budget, Piccirilli said.
The current shelter was built in 1966 for animal control before becoming the no-kill Shenango Valley Animal Shelter. Because of the building’s age and limited space, shelter officials have launched a fund drive is underway for a new building that would provide increased space and amenities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter has has limited opportunities for fundraising, with many events planned for the spring and summer were cancelled. However, Piccirilli said the board hopes to break ground, or at least begin some site preparation, by next spring.
“The community’s been so wonderful, but we realize this has been a difficult year for everybody so we’ll continue with the current building and provide the best services we can,” Piccirilli said.
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