Job cuts continue at Mae Bachur

More staff have been laid off at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

More staff have been laid off at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

Five more part-time animal attendants have been laid off at the shelter run by the Humane Society Yukon, society president Shelley Cuthbert said in an email this week. This leaves only five staff employed at the shelter, she said.

There isn’t enough money to pay for the staff, said Cuthbert.

The shelter has an annual budget of $450,000, it announced in a press release after last month’s job cuts. It spends $20,000 on employees’ wages a month.

The society was supposed to receive $79,500 this year from the territorial government. But half of that money, which was to be paid in October, is being withheld because the society is not in good standing.

Late last month, the shelter laid off four of its 14 staff, leaving four full-time and six part-time employees. Besides cutting staff, the shelter also stopped accepting new animals.

At the time, there were more than 64 animals at the shelter, most of them dogs. Many of the animals have been “sent to Alaska and adopted,” Cuthbert said in an email.

There are now only 22 animals at the shelter, she said. Many of those are expected to leave in the next few weeks, she said.

The board will be meet to review the situation in a week, she said in an email Tuesday.

The shelter’s continuing problems have concerned many people. A group of citizens, none of whom are involved with the society, formed a group to reform the society after last month’s cuts.

Offers to help have come from Outside as well.

Stephanie McDonald, the CEO of the Edmonton Humane Society, said a concerned individual contacted them after last month’s cuts. She does not think that person was part of the humane society’s board, she said.

McDonald contacted the Whitehorse shelter to offer support, but she has not heard back from the society yet, she said.

More animals are admitted to the Edmonton Humane Society’s shelter than any other in Canada, and it offers training services to other shelters, said McDonald.

The Edmonton shelter has taken in animals from Mae Bachur before, she said. The last time this happened was in 2011, she said.

In the meantime, the Humane Society Yukon continues to face battles in court.

Last month, members of the board entered individual not-guilty pleas in territorial court. They are being charged with violating an order from the territory’s registrar of societies.

In September, the board was told to re-instate memberships to people who had had their memberships illegally denied. The board was also told to hold a special meeting by Oct. 5 to elect a new board.

Those orders have not been followed.

In court this week, the case was adjourned until Dec. 18.

The board is facing similar charges in the territory’s Supreme Court. The hope is that the case will be resolved before the next date in territorial court, Tracy McPhee, lawyer for the territory, said in court Tuesday.

The court will determine when the society will hold its next annual general meeting. It was originally scheduled for Nov. 23.

Former employees want the meeting to happen as soon as possible.

Mike Seed, who was an animal attendant for just over a year at Mae Bachur, was laid off last month. At the time, he said the board’s actions were causing the society to lose funds and public support.

“And I just think it’s so selfish to hold onto your position when you know it’s damaging such a fragile place like the Mae Bachur,” he told the News at the time.

Hazel Phillips, who was laid off at the same time, shared Seed’s sentiments.

“I would prefer for the AGM to happen, that a new board could be elected, and the shelter could stay open and animals could be adopted again,” she told the News shortly after she lost her job.

Animals will not be adopted out of the shelter from Dec. 18 to Jan. 4, 2013.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com