St. John Tradewinds News

Animal Care Center Is in Dire Need Of Funding To Keep Shelter Open

Several dogs and cats are available for adoption.

Despite countless hours of work and tireless fundraising efforts, the Animal Care Center of St. John is in dire financial straits and needs emergency help from the community in order to keep the doors to its no-kill animal shelter open.

In addition to staffing and running the no-kill shelter, the organization spays and neuters homeless animals and supplies food to the many unowned cats living in the bush through feeding stations placed across the island.

The seeds for the current association were originally sown in the late 1980s and while the ACC has suffered its share of reorganizations and changing staff and board members, the group has remained a steadfast advocate for animal rights and humane animal care.

The ACC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with every dime donated going directly to cover shelter expenses. The ACC Board of Directors is all volunteer.

The group’s no-kill shelter is currently at capacity with officials caring for 13 dogs, five puppies, 14 cats and 27 kittens.

While the ACC receives a small government grant and hosts three major fundraisers a year, those fundraisers have been trending down and with operating expenses topping $13,000 a month, the organization is plainly broke, according to board member Jennifer Dale.

“We’re in a funding emergency,” said Dale. “We run through $13,000 a month on shelter management labor, veterinary bills, medicine and food and then in addition to that there are the typical business expenses of rent and utilities. Literally our coffers are empty.”

Although the ACC is well-supported by the St. John community, dwindling funds coming in combined with skyrocketing costs have put the organization in its current financial crisis, Dale explained.

“The fundraisers have been trending down and this does not mean that people don’t care or that we’re not doing a good job,” Dale said. “We’re working harder now than ever. We’re simply not pulling in the money.”

The board has been cutting costs wherever possible and working tirelessly, but even with its penny-pinching, costs are piling up and the budget gap is growing, Dale explained.

“Our strategy has been to cut expenses and that is what we’ve been doing and continue to do,” she said. “But at this point we’re talking about the need to make some really difficult decisions about what medical situations we can afford to treat.”

While the full financial picture just recently came into focus, the ACC board is aware that it needs to change it course, Dale added.

“The Board is aware that our funding strategy is not working and we are quickly regrouping to address all of the shelter’s issues,” she said. “We’re not perfect, although I wish we were. The ACC Board, the shelter workers, and every single volunteer has made tremendous efforts to get to this point and I don’t want anyone to think it hasn’t been worth it.”

“We’ve just done what we can with the strategy that was originally laid out and it’s time to regroup and prepare a more effective plan for the future,” said Dale.

The ACC board, in full crisis mode, is searching for solutions and working even harder to keep the organization going. While the group has lofty goals of building a self-sustaining shelter in the future — which would address its financial shortfall — it’s the now dire need to keep the ACC functioning that is consuming board members.

In order to help keep the ACC alive, donate online at www.stjacc.org, or pay via PaypPal. Residents can also mail donations to the St. John Animal Care Center, P.O. Box 429, St. John, VI, 00831-0429.

People with limited funds can still help the animal organization as well. Volunteer to walk dogs during the morning or afternoon; help find homes for the dogs and cats; foster a cat or dog from the shelter; or help train shelter dogs so they can be more adoptable.

Residents can also donate other items like office supplies, building materials and cleaning supplie or by volunteering services or time, doing anything from painting to writing.

For more information call Dale at 513-1142 or the ACC at 774-1625.