The Humane Society of Cumberland County has announced plans to close its shelter operations in mid-November, allowing time to find homes for the pets currently housed there.

The Humane Society has struggled with debt payments the current board of directors inherited from previous management. President Alan Baker said, "After six months, there is no other solution. The PAWS variety store is a positive source of funding but it is not enough to provide good care. If we're going to house animals, we need to do it right."

In the 2009-'10 fiscal year, the Humane Society was contracted with the city of Crossville to provide housing for animals brought by city animal control officers at a rate of $39,000 for the year. During budget talks for the 2010-'11 year, the Humane Society asked for an increase in funding. The city budgeted $25,000 for the Humane Society. In August, the shelter, which became a guaranteed adoption facility, was unable to take all the animals brought to it by animal control. At that time, the city began talks with Cumberland County for a joint animal shelter operation.

"Even with the city's funding, the problem was bigger," Baker said. "They [previous boards of directors] should never have split off from the county."

Baker said the Humane Society also attempted to negotiate with its creditors, but was unsuccessful.

"With its reduced revenues, the continuing weak economy and creditors who are not willing to help, we cannot afford to keep the shelter open," Baker wrote in a press release.

It is hoped the PAWS variety store will remain open and serve as a source of funding for the continuing spay/neuter program and community education efforts.

Baker thanks all those who had contributed time or funding to the Humane Society in the past.

"This support has helped the Society rescue and place over 15,000 dogs and cats in the past 25 years. We feel that it is time to reconsider how we can best help the community with our limited resources," Baker said.

The Humane Society board voted Wednesday night to cease shelter operations to give the shelter employees adequate notice and to have time to find homes for the pets still housed at the facility at 594 Cook Rd.

There are currently 50 cats and 39 dogs, of various ages, breeds and sizes, available for adoption. Most have been spayed or neutered and all have received needed medications. Records of vaccinations and treatments are provided with each animal. The board is offering reducing adoption fees to help find good homes for those pets.

Most available pets can be seen on the website, www.cumberlandhumanesociety.org. Some Humane Society pets are cared for in foster homes. Baker said foster-pets are brought to the shelter during business hours on Saturdays to meet prospective adoptive families, or ask shelter staff to arrange a meeting.

The shelter is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call 484-9700.

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