By Paul Schmitt
The Door County Humane Society along with Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay was acquired by the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) at an official announcement Friday afternoon. According to Angela Speed, Vice-President of Communications, the board at Door County Humane Society voted unanimously to become part of the WHS. Speed says the timing was right for the transaction.
Speed says there are no plans for any future merger or layoffs from either facility. In fact, the WHS is looking to hire more positions across all of their shelters. Local donations can still be designated specifically for the Door County Humane Society facility, according to speed.
Official Press Release
MILWAUKEE — Officials at the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS), Bay Area Humane Society (BAHS) in Green Bay, and Door County Humane Society (DCHS) in Sturgeon Bay, have announced a new vision for their organizations: BAHS and DCHS have chosen to strengthen their work for animals by becoming a part of the Wisconsin Humane Society.
“Nonprofit animal shelters operate with limited resources, and it is even more difficult because every organization is separate and has to separately fund overhead costs,” said John Matter, board chairman of WHS. “The consolidation of our experience and resources not only strengthens all of us, but is a better return on investment for the community that supports this critical work for animals.”
WHS was approached separately by leadership at both organizations about succession plans to ensure the continuation of animal sheltering and other services in their respective communities. Both BAHS and DCHS were looking for an ongoing framework that would reliably sustain their operations into the future. The three organizations have worked together the past several months to solidify plans for the acquisition.
“This is truly the best thing that could have happened for the Bay Area Humane Society,” said Marlene Walsh, executive director at BAHS. “I’m retiring at the end of the year, and I’m thrilled that our succession plan is the Wisconsin Humane Society. In the end, the animals win. The resources that they can bring to the region will strengthen our ability to serve animals in need.”
The board at Door County also voted unanimously to become part of WHS. As a small organization, DCHS found that the challenge of bearing overhead costs alone was threatening the future of their work. WHS can bring efficiencies and innovative philosophies to ensure that service to animals continues uninterrupted in that region.
Service to new communities is not foreign to WHS. In 2004, the Milwaukee-based WHS acquired the Ozaukee Humane Society, and in 2013, it acquired the Countryside Humane Society in Racine. The consolidation of staff and resources helped to ensure high-quality animal care and services to animals and families in both counties.
“As Wisconsin’s oldest animal welfare organization, WHS has always worked to identify and respond to the most pressing needs of animals,” said Anne Reed, President & CEO at WHS. “Today, the fragmentation of animal welfare into so many different organizations has created a new need: the need to support vital work for animals with strong, simple infrastructure. We believe that local organizations face significant risks to sustainability and relevance if each one is a separate silo that must reinvent every wheel.”
All three organizations were already committed to finding a home for every treatable and safe animal, no matter how long it takes. WHS helped pioneer the approaches that make this possible in the 1990s, and BAHS and DCHS have followed them for some time. These approaches will continue. In addition, the organizations expect that this change will bring more resources for medical and behavioral care for animals at the new locations.
The organizations are working jointly to make the transition as smooth as possible for their dedicated staff and volunteers. In Green Bay, Olivia Webster will serve as the shelter operations manager; she has been with BAHS for 10 years. In Door County, Carol Boudreau, currently the executive director at DCHS, is excited to stay on to manage the Door County location. WHS will also be hiring new positions right away to support the work of their foster/transfer, human resources, volunteer, fundraising, animal care and client service teams. There are no plans to merge the locations, lay off employees or reduce pay.
“We have so much to look forward to – a partner that can offer everything from best practices in shelter medicine to health insurance and benefits for our staff, to innovative approaches to adoption,” said Boudreau.
The boards of all three organizations voted unanimously in November to approve the acquisition of BAHS and DCHS by WHS, pending conditions of closing, which include satisfactory environmental assessments of the land, title reports on the real estate, satisfactory agreements with any needed municipalities, and membership approval at DCHS. WHS hopes to close the transactions as early as the end of 2017.
The George Kress Family Foundation is generously helping to support the acquisition. Other donations are being sought to help with transition costs, which are estimated to be about $175,000 and include expenses for animal care equipment, veterinary supplies, training, travel, facility improvements and advertising.
“We are incredibly grateful for the vital work Bay Area and Door County Humane Societies are doing for 4,000 animals in their regions,” said Reed, “and we are excited to bring our resources to sustain lifesaving services for animals and the people who love them.”
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About the Wisconsin Humane Society
The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) is the oldest and largest shelter in Wisconsin. It was founded in 1879 and operates shelters in Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Racine Counties, as well as a spay/neuter clinic in West Allis. The organization annually serves 35,000 domestic and wild animals and offers adoption services, youth programming, low-cost spay/neuter services, retail stores, volunteer programs and dog training classes. The Milwaukee shelter also houses the state’s busiest wildlife rehabilitation center. Ranked 4 stars by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity watchdog group, WHS is an independent nonprofit and receives no general government funding, and is not part of any national umbrella group. For more information, please call (414) 264-6257 or visit wihumane.org.
About the Bay Area Humane Society
The Bay Area Humane Society is about hope, not heartache. As the Greater Green Bay area’s critical safety net since 1959, we are always here to save and protect every animal that comes through our doors. We have mastered the art of saving lives within our walls and now we are going even further, helping our community’s pets and their people together. We are going beyond a no-kill community to ensure that each animal has the quality of life they deserve . . . a life worth living.
About the Door County Humane Society
Door County Humane Society has served the needs of county residents and their homeless or unwanted cats and dogs since 1992. We strive to expand our footprint and the outreach programs and services offered to improve and foster the relationship between people and the animals in their lives. We believe that by identifying and understanding the changing needs of Door County, we can find or create solutions that will better serve the community. Current services include adoptions, animal surrender, stray intake, animal reclaim, microchipping, cremation for pets, and quarantine and seizure housing. Some programs offered are low cost spay and neuter clinics, therapy dog classes, educational tours and presentations, Learning in Retirement, barn cat adoption, Girl and Boy Scout Badges, and foster kitten care. Our core commitment remains our no-kill philosophy and the mandate that all cats and dogs entering our building will receive the very best care and every opportunity that we can provide them.