Last July, the Hi-Tor animal shelter was at risk of being closed due to lack of funds. However, thanks to donations from the public, Rockland’s only animal shelter is able to remain open.
“When we were in the kind of financial crisis we were in, the public started up with donations. When the rebuild effort began, people are donating more for Rebuild Hi-Tor than to the shelter’s operational costs. I’m excited that we’re going to get a new shelter, but in the meantime, we need to be fiscally responsible,” said Roberta Bangs, president of the Hi-Tor Animal Shelter Board.
Hi-Tor canceled its annual awards dinner this year and the staff / board holiday gathering.
Among the measures taken to trim costs, the position of executive director was not renewed, which was held by Vivian Kiggins.
“Vivien was a contract employee. The contract goes from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 and according to the contract, we have to give 30 days notice, so we had no choice with the timing of it,” said Bangs. “She had done a tremendous amount to turn the shelter around.”
Bangs said that the previous management before Kiggins ran Hi-Tor as a high-kill shelter and now, there is a 90 percent live release rate.
Hi-Tor cannot turn away any domestic animals and in the past, that has included everything from dogs, cats and gerbils to chickens and even a goat.
Because Hi-Tor must accept all domestic animals, it can never be a no-kill shelter because the shelter will receive animals that are severely injured or sick.
Brian Bradshaw, the shelter operation manager, and his staff manages the hands-on care of the animals. As for the duties previously filled by the executive director, Bangs said that the board will look at using volunteers or part-time employees hired at a much lower pay than an executive director.
“We have a fiscal responsibility. These are hard times for everybody and we need to stay in operation until the new facility is built,” she said.