The Humane Society Yukon has yet another new president.
Seann Springford resigned from the position on Feb. 25, less than three months after being elected to the role. He made the decision for personal reasons, he said in an interview Thursday afternoon. Hoby Irwin, former vice-president, is the new president.
“I was very surprised and very disappointed. I thought he was the right personality for the job,” said Irwin. “I was appreciating the direction he was taking the humane society and the shelter, but sometimes these things just don’t work out.”
The new direction was sorely needed.
Springford became president shortly before Christmas, at a Yukon Supreme Court-ordered annual general meeting. The society, which runs the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, was in gross disrepair. A government investigation revealed the current board had broken the law by illegally denying membership requests or renewals.
The government ordered the society to hold a special meeting to elect a new board and have members review financial statements. It refused, and only held the meeting after the court order.
The society was bleeding cash, prompting concerns that the shelter would have to close. But the new year brought some relief. In late January, the territorial government released nearly $40,000 in withheld funding. This came a few weeks after Cheeky Monkey Daycare in Riverdale donated $10,000 to the society.
But the society was never on sure financial footing, said Springford. And it’s not out of the woods yet, either.
The society is still not in good standing with the territorial government. It won’t be until it receives all of its interim financial statements from its accountants in Ottawa, said Irwin.
“We’re running on fumes at this point,” said Irwin. Because the society isn’t in good standing, it can’t apply for a bingo licence. Money from Bingo “powered” the day-to-day expenses at the shelter, said Irwin.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are 19 animals at the shelter, said manager Amanda Ferrell. But the society is just scraping by to pay staff. At this rate, it may only be able to stay open for about two more months, she said.
So it’s asking the public to step up. Tax receipts can be issued for donations over $20. People can also bring their Canadian Tire money and receipts from Extra Foods to the shelter.
In an interview Thursday, Springford declined to provide more details about why he resigned, except to say it was for personal reasons. The society is run by a good board, he said. There isn’t in-fighting, a problem that appeared to have contributed to the last board’s problems.
Under the past board the books were poorly kept, said Irwin. “As things got worse with the society, the record keeping got worse,” he said.
“I don’t think the new board realized when we started what bad shape the society was in, and what poor shape the record-keeping had been in,” said Irwin. The board had many outstanding debts, including to its Ottawa-based accountants, he said. Because of this, the accountants were hesitant to do work for the society.
Without the accountants’ approval of financial statements, the society couldn’t get into good standing. Springford had to negotiate a deal before the accountants would look at the society’s books, said Irwin.
“We’re just caught in this vicious circle here,” he said.
Board members are working hard to straighten it out, but it’s been tough. “We don’t have enough financial information to tell how badly screwed we are,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for volunteers to have to resign from boards, said Irwin. It’s something the current board will just have to work through.
And more changes may be coming. Irwin doesn’t plan on being president forever, he said. Once all the financials are received, the society will hold a special meeting, said Irwin. At that meeting, he hopes a new president will be elected, he said.
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