SAGA Humane Society to reduce services due to mounting financial pressures

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The San Pedro SAGA Humane Society has been providing humane services to animals of San Pedro since it was founded in March of 1999. Among the services provided are: dog patrols to pickup strays, dangerous, diseased, mistreated/abused, abandoned or injured animals; responding to complaints of dog attacks, dog fights, noise nuisance and other negative interactions between animals, providing free rabies shots for all animals, providing free or low cost medical treatment to animals belonging to individuals who may otherwise not be able to afford it; serve as a shelter where homeless or mistreated animals may receive food and treatment and serve as an adoption agent to animal lovers amongst many other services.

The Society has had many struggles in the past, a major one being the fight to acquire a new veterinary license to be able to offer the services of a full time veterinarian, a struggle that commenced in April of 2010 after their residing veterinarian resigned. In June, committee members saw an approaching end to their struggle when a temporary, conditional permit was issued to Dr. Lauren Henkel (Veterinarian). This permit allowed Dr. Henkel to provide veterinary services to strays and pets belonging to “underprivileged” owners.

While the Humane Society was offering veterinary services, the terms of the permit were unclear as to what would qualify an individual as being “underprivileged”. After a 23-week process, the San Pedro SAGA Humane Society was extremely happy to report that Dr. Henkel received her unrestricted, permanent license to practice at the SAGA Humane Society Clinic. The good news came in on Saturday, October 2nd, 2010.

However, after only two months of a fully operational Veterinary Clinic, after all their struggles, the SAGA Humane Society has been forced to re-evaluate their business plan. The amount of time spent fighting for their license has now put them in a position whereby paying customers were lost, and finances are strained to the point where the daily clinic has to be cut down to twice a week, amongst other things. Below, find a copy of the press release that the SAGA Humane Society Board of Directors issued detailing their struggles.

Press Release – Saga Humane Society – January 4th, 2010 – Saga Humane Society regrets to announce that it will no longer be able to maintain a full time veterinary clinic or to provide free clinic services to low income pet owners. Saga will continue on a limited basis to take in surrendered and stray animals, and to do stray dog roundups, and follow up on abuse and neglect cases, but only as its finances will allow.
Saga has found itself to be in an unsustainable financial position after months of struggles – license limitations placed on its full time vet leading to loss of paying customers, financial pressures from the poor economy, increased surrenders of animals, increased requests and referrals for free services, and local competitive factors.
In order to continue Saga’s mission to promote kindness and prevent cruelty to animals as best it can, Saga must downsize and reorganize. As part of that downsizing, Saga’s full time vet clinic has been closed as of today (January 4).

Saga intends to re-open the vet clinic on a part time basis for one or two days a week in the near future. The clinic will primarily serve the needs of Saga’s own shelter animals, but also to provide some services to the public on a paid basis. This part time schedule will be announced.

Besides thanking the many people who have continued to support and believe in Saga’s mission over the last 10 years, Saga’s Board and Staff would like to especially acknowledge and thank their dearly departed friend Michael Fox, who made a generous gift to Saga in his will. It should be noted by the public, however, that Saga has not received any of this money yet, and that under the terms of the will and gift, Saga won’t receive anything until Mr. Fox’s assets are liquidated and all other parties named in the will have received their gifts first. This could easily take a year or two.

Saga’s focus going forward will be primarily the operation of a shelter, adoption and public education center, while also promoting the spaying and neutering of the local animal population. Saga will also continue taking in and caring for surrendered and stray animals, and to provide dog roundups and follow up on abuse and neglect cases so long as it can do so. Saga intends to reform and reorganize its business model to create a more sustainable organization in the long term, including a sponsorship program that will enable individuals or businesses to take on all or part of the support of an individual animal, key staff member or critical expense.

So, now, more than ever, Saga needs its public’s support, kind sponsors, both individuals and businesses, you who understand and know the importance of what Saga does for this community and its animals every day.

Just last week, Saga was finally able, after over a year of effort, to rescue a dog who lost his owner as a puppy and had his outgrown collar deeply embedded into the flesh of his neck (thanks Heather for your generous volunteer time and the dog trap!). And to help put a poor dog humanely out of his misery who suffered an amputation from a machete blow up North (thanks for calling us to let us know so we could help!). Saga gets calls like these and goes out to help animals in the community day in and day out, week after week. We need your help to continue during this critical time in Saga’s history.
Please make your donations at Saga’s place of business on Sea Star Street (one block west of the Island Academy’s athletic fields) or go to Saga’s website to make a secure donation at www.sagahumanesociety.org.

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