The Mae Bachur Animal Shelter has stopped accepting animals.
The shelter, run by the Humane Society Yukon, is overloaded with puppies and doesn’t have enough space or money to take care of more animals, the society said in a release Monday.
The society will see whether it can accept new animals in two weeks, president Shelley Cuthbert said in an email.
The shelter “is not closing at this time,” and is not euthanizing any animals, the release says.
The shelter is currently housing 13 cats and 51 dogs, Cuthbert said. The shelter is still adopting out animals. Any new animals will need to be sent to Whitehorse bylaw officers or the government’s animal welfare officer, she said.
To save money, the shelter has laid off four staff. But what the organization really needs is new leadership, former staff say.
“As far as we knew, there’s always been a shortage of money. But we’ve never turned away animals,” said Hazel Phillips. She worked her last shift as an animal care attendant on Saturday. She learned she was being laid off when she came in for a volunteer shift on Friday.
It costs $450,000 a year to run the shelter, the release says. It spends $20,000 on employees’ wages a month, the release says.
The society receives $79,000 from the territorial government, with the remainder raised through fundraisers.
And lately, these fundraisers have been a “trainwreck,” said Mike Seed, a laid-off animal attendant.
“I think if the shelter is to survive another month, it’s unquestionable,” he said. Since Cuthbert became president in January, donations have “gone down to about zero,” he said.
“She’s running the place into the ground,” he said. “She just won’t call it quits.”
In September, the Yukon government ordered the society to hold a meeting to elect a new board by Oct. 5., after more than 20 per cent of the society’s members petitioned the board asking for this.
Last month, the society announced it would be holding its annual general meeting on Nov. 23. But this morning, Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower decided to delay the meeting. The court will set the new date, said Tom Ullyett, assistant deputy minister of justice.
Shelter staff and board members will not be answering questions about the meeting, Cuthbert said in an email.
The board has flouted a government order to grant memberships to people who had theirs illegally denied. As a result, the society has been charged with not obeying government orders.
The board’s actions are “obviously ruining the shelter in terms of funds, and the name of the shelter itself,” said Seed. “And I just think it’s so selfish to hold on to your position when you know it’s damaging such a fragile place like the Mae Bachur.”
Seed learned he was being laid off at the end of his Saturday shift. He had worked at the shelter since October 2011.
Once there’s a new board, he would return to work at the shelter, he said.
“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 said.
“I really want the shelter to stay open because it’s where the animals go. Without the Mae Bachur, there’s no no-kill shelter in Whitehorse.”
Animals that the shelter has turned away have had to go to city bylaw services, she said. There were three turned away on Saturday, she said.
Contact Meagan Gillmore at firstname.lastname@example.org