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June 22, 2010 / V A Nichols

Sylacauga Mayor continues to fail animals

Monday, June 21st, was the fourth time since April that overflow animals from Sylacauga’s Animal Rescue Foundation have been sent to a Birmingham humane society to be euthanized. Reportedly, more than 500 animals have been sent from ARF to their death in Birmingham.

The Animal Rescue Foundation has a contract with the City of Sylacauga to run their city shelter.

On Monday, sources say ARF’s shelter director had scheduled two air- conditioned  vans to be used in the transport to Birmingham.  Mayor Sam Wright denied the use of the vans and instead directed the use of open-air utility trailers to transport the animals. Perhaps the Mayor was not aware of the 95+ degree weather outside or the lack of shade provided the animals, or perhaps he didn’t care. Either way, it is this author’s opinion, that the animals suffered during their transport.

Typically, cities contract-out services to save money and avert responsibility. With only about $40,000 provided by the City to ARF, a facility that takes in approximately 8,000 animals a year, this would appear to be the case.

The  Animal Rescue Foundation, beleaguered by its own problems,  is not without responsibility in this situation.  Earlier this year the organization’s executive director was suspended in response to questionable financial management. What followed was the refusal of area veterinarians to work with the shelter.

It has been learned that ARF continues to present itself as a non-profit organization, although, according to Guidestar, the organization has not filed an annual IRS 990 form since 2005.

The web site of the IRS states:  “Most tax-exempt organizations, other than churches, must file a yearly return or notice with the IRS. If an organization does not file as required for three consecutive years, the law provides that it automatically loses its tax-exempt status. Loss of exempt status means an organization must file income tax returns and pay income tax, and its contributors will not be able to deduct their donations.”

The Animal Rescue Foundation continues to request monetary donations from the public on their website, Facebook page, and in media releases.

It is important to note, the City of Sylacauga is ultimately responsible for the shelter and the animals housed there. Providing less than adequate  funding has created a ripple effect of disastrous proportions, and, as usual, it is the animals that pay the price.

Knowledgeable sources have recommended the following;

1.) close the shelter in order to reorganize

2.) develop a responsible plan

3.) increase the City’s funding

Increased City funding is key to the reorganization of this shelter, and its ability to provide  service to the community.

The city will not increase its funding without expressed public outrage.

Please contact Sylacauga Mayor, Sam Wright, and ask that City funding of the shelter be increased!

Phone: 256-401-2434             E-mail: swright@sylacaugaal.gov

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One Comment

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  1. Danyell Jackson / Jun 23 2010 12:02 PM

    During the last transport of animals from Sylacauga to GBHS on back of that trailer, it has been confirmed that two animals died and many others were on the verge of death from heat exhaustion. The Mayor is to blame for many things including not providing air-conditioned vehicles for the animals (although I do not think the animals should have been transported in the first place). The staff and/or board made a poor decision to transport the animals in the heat. They need basic animal care classes to know how to care for animals. It seems anyone with any sense would have known better than to do such a thing. What you have is a bunch of people who love animals but have no idea how to care for them. In that case, they do not need to be running a shelter.

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