Since the number of dogs and cats needing a home in the community continues to rise and the cost to house them increases while the dated facility crumbles, the Payson Humane Society needs donations now more than ever.
“Every day is a struggle,” said Payson Humane Society board of directors vice president Lisa Boyle. “There has been a dramatic slowdown in donations and large donations are not coming in as expected.”
The condition of the current facility is causing major problems — including animals getting ill because sick animals cannot be isolated successfully from the rest of the pet population.
Among the recent problems with illness have been outbreaks of herpes, Giardia infections and the kalesi virus.
Four cathouses, each containing several cats, remain empty after all the cats were euthanized to stop the spread of the viruses.
“The current facility was never meant to be an animal shelter, this was a house,” Boyle said.
The makeshift shelter has animals and supplies crammed in anywhere they can fit, but there is still not enough room to accommodate every pet.
While visiting the shelter on Thursday, Boyle had to turn away 10 puppies because of space.
“Every day we get a couple more animals,” she said. “But we don’t have room for all those puppies and we would have to kill animals to make room — we don’t kill for space.”
The shelter makes every effort to find homes for every animal it takes in and will hold onto an animal until it is adopted, only euthanizing if the animal is aggressive and un-adoptable.
With a daily cost of $800 to operate, donations are in high demand. More than 75 percent of the shelter’s operating budget comes from private donations. The Humane Society has contracts with Payson, Gila County, Star Valley and the Tonto Apache Tribe to shelter stray dogs, cats and other animals, which covers the other 25 percent.
Support of the Humane Society’s 12th Annual Chili Supper is always critical to its programs, but perhaps this year, the need is greater than ever. The supper — which features a variety of dishes, drawings and more, is from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 3 at the Payson Elks Lodge, 1206 N. Beeline Highway (the entrance for the facility is on Airport Road).
“The evening is a lot of fun — affordable fun — that is good for the whole family to come out to,” Boyle said.
On average, the supper brings in about $5,000 between the admission, raffles and auctions.
“We always have cars lined up, but we could always benefit from a few more,” Boyle said.
Money raised goes to the shelter’s general fund, which covers daily operation costs including food, employee salaries and utilities.
Macky’s Grill is donating the chili, Gerardo’s Italian Bistro the hot rolls, Fargo’s Steak House the salad dressing, El Rancho the cheese and Famous Sam’s the onions.
“The local businesses are wonderful and have been for many years,” Boyle said. “It would not be possible without their support.”
Along with chili, there will be macaroni and cheese, salad and cupcakes served. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children.
After dinner, enter one of the raffles or the silent auction to win various prizes, including a Mexican Riviera vacation from Cruise Port Travel, a truckload of gravel, toys, jewelry, savings bonds, floral arrangements, veterinary services or gift baskets.
Along with supporting the shelter’s daily operations, money donated at the chili dinner will go toward constructing a new facility behind the existing shelter.
The Humane Society hopes to start construction in January and move in by September of 2009.
The new, 15,500-square-foot, soundproof facility will cost more than $3 million to build.
It will house all of the animals inside, with an outdoor exercise area for day use and have a surgical suite for low-cost spays and neuters on site.
So far, the Humane Society has raised about $620,000 of the money it needs.
On Dec. 6, the shelter is holding the Second Annual Homes for the Holiday event from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is a Christmas open house with refreshments and shelter tours. Previous adopters can come with the pet they adopted.
“It is just a way to say thank you to the community,” Boyle said. “Last year we had people come up from the Valley with their pets.”
On Feb. 14, there will be a Valentine gala at the Mazatzal Casino. More information on the events will be available in upcoming editions of the Payson Roundup.
For more information on any event, call (928) 474-5590, visit www.paysonhumanesociety.com or stop by the shelter at 812 S. McLane Road.