Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter in ‘crisis’ mode as it faces closure

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BUCHANAN DAM — Since 2000, the Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter/Adoption Center has accepted and taken in more than 38,000 dogs and cats from Llano and Burnet counties. But if the facility doesn’t get an infusion of donations and volunteers, officials say this could be the last year for it.

“We’re at a crisis,” said Lin Christ, a Hill Country Humane Society/SPCA board member and charter member. The center bears hers and charter member Dee Yoder’s names. “If we don’t get donations and volunteers, we’ll have to close in a year. I don’t know what’s happened. We’re just not getting the donations and volunteers we used to.”

The HCHS/SPCA owns and operates the Christ-Yoder center, 9150 RR 1431 in Buchanan Dam. The facility accepts dogs and cats from residents of Burnet and Llano counties but also serves as the drop-off place for animal control services from several cities and both counties. As an open-admission facility, staff doesn’t turn away drop-offs or surrenders.

While the counties and cities contract for the services, which include housing strays and quarantining animals, Christ explained those funds don’t pay for the adoption center portion of the facility.

“And they shouldn’t,” she said. “We rely on donations and the public’s support to operate the pet adoption side.”

The contracts of the counties and cities only cover the costs of taking in the animals, sheltering them for five days and disposing of them.

The cost of the adoption center program includes vaccinations, testing for heartworms and feline leukemia as well as feline acquired immune deficiency, veterinary care when necessary and sheltering animals beyond the five-day period while they wait to be adopted, reclaimed or transferred.

All this is supported by membership dues, donations and minimal adoption fees.

Unfortunately, as the amount of donations and public support has dwindled over the past several years, the HCHS/SPCA has tapped into savings and other funds. But even those have run out, forcing the board to start using endowment funds to pay operation expenses.

Those funds, Christ said, were never meant to pay operation costs but were set aside for building expansions in the future.

She’s even tapped into her own savings to help keep the facility afloat.

Christ has pledge to keep the facility open through the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which runs until Sept. 30, 2015. She said with contracts in hand from the counties and cities to provide services for those entities, the board would keep the shelter open to meet those obligations and take in animals for the year. But then, without a steady infusion of donations, Christ doesn’t see any other option but closing the facility.

“If we don’t start getting some donations and volunteers in the next several months and it doesn’t look like things are going get any better, I’ll start notifying the counties and cities who contract with us that we won’t be renewing any contracts for the next year.”

While there are other animal shelters and humane organizations in the Highland Lakes, none fill the capacity of the Christ-Yoder center. Along with taking in private citizens’ drop-offs for any reason, the center accepts dogs and cats from the local animal control officers. This equates to quite a number of animals.

Under state law, the center is only required to hold animal control drop-offs for three days, but Christ said they keep them for five days. During that time, the staff and volunteers work to reunite the animal with its owner, get it adopted or transfer it to another rescue group or shelter.

Some animals are even held for longer than five days.

Unfortunately, the shelter can’t keep dogs and cats indefinitely.

“As an open-admission center, which I guess the older way of putting it is we’re a ‘kill’ shelter, we do have to euthanize animals,” Christ said. “None of us wants to do this. And it is the hardest thing for the staff to do, but it’s something we have to do. As long as there are irresponsible pet owners out there, it’s an unfortunate reality.”

Since opening in 2000, the shelter has reunited about 2,500 pets with their owners, adopted out more than 4,100 and transferred more than 2,000. This is just over 22 percent of the animals it takes in. While that sounds dismal (and it is), Christ said it falls in line with the national average of shelters.

The numbers are also a bit skewed considering that just over 9,200 animals accepted since 2000 are feral cats, which are both unadoptable and untransferable.

“It’s a terrible thing, but we can’t adopt them out,” Christ said about the feral cats.

If the Christ-Yoder facilty closes, it would leave a big hole in those services.

Counties and cities could contract with another facility, though finding one might present a tough option. Christ-Yoder could technically remain open and only contract with municipalities and the counties for those specific services, which would exclude the pet adoption center.

“But we’re an animal welfare organization,” Christ said. “Just providing those services isn’t something we’d want to just do.”

While euthanasia is a reality for the center and its staff, Christ said the chance of finding dogs and cats permanent family homes offsets those darker parts of the operation.

“For the staff and board, knowing that they can make a difference by adopting pets out or transferring them to no-kill shelters or rescue groups really helps them,” Christ said. “Working at the shelter is hard work. It’s a tough job. But those adoptions make it better for us.”

Christ said after returning to the board this past January following a several-year absence, she’s noticed a lack of volunteers. In fact, the only volunteers who routinely help the staff at the shelter are the six board members. For many years, one of the biggest fundraisers that supported the shelter and HCHS/SPCA was the Tail Wagger golf tournament, but when the longtime organizer of the event passed away about six or eight years ago, nobody else stepped up to take over the event. And it’s the same with other fundraising activities, including rummage sales.

“As a board, we’re devastated,” Christ said. “We don’t want to close it, but without more volunteers and donations, I don’t think we’ll have a choice. And we don’t need just a one-time infusion of donations but a sustaining one.”

For Christ, the problem hurts personally because she’s been there from the start. She was one of the first proponents of building the shelter when many others thought it couldn’t be done.

And now, like then, she’s concerned for the dogs and cats that will face an uncertain future if the shelter closes.

“What’s going to happen to those lost and stray animals if we have to close this shelter?” Christ asked. “They’ll be left out there running around, possibly getting hit by cars. It just hurts thinking about it.”

People interested in donating to the shelter can send donations to HCHS/SPCA, P.O. Box 1041, Marble Falls, TX 78654. Those interested in volunteering or learning about other support opportunities can call (512) 793-5463 for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

12 thoughts on “Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter in ‘crisis’ mode as it faces closure

  1. While this is a heartfelt article the truth is most people think or thought Christ-Yoder was opened as a no-kill shelter and funds were donated on that premises. Obviously this is a high euthanize rate facility as their numbers reflect. Their donations have dropped because over the past 10 years the ex-employees fired for complaining about the amount of adoptable dogs being put down or questionable ethics in regards to euthanizing the animals, potential adopters that were rude to by the staff or turned down for reasons like “they have a stray cat they feed” or “it will be an outside dog” or they have another pet at home that is not spayed/neutered yet, all this on social media bringing attention to how many pets were being put down and problems with owners getting their dogs back. People don’t want to support this. They want to feel good about spending their money and save pets. It’s sad that Lin and Dee’s dream of saving all these pets turned into a population control facility and so much money is spent on payroll and overhead and not on adoptions like rescues rely on. The rescues in the area work tirelessly trying to save the dogs and cats from Christ-Yoder and are the ones that the money is most needed since all their operations are out of pocket and truly rely on donations (no funding) to vet, spay/neuter, UTD vaccines, hw prevention, feed and house the dogs that were going to be put down. Maybe people will start taking responsibility for their pets if they don’t have an easy dump!

  2. If Lin Christ would have listened to outcries of how rude the staff is and just how many dogs are being put down maybe the shelter would not be at the stage of closing down. The staff has run so many off. Paper work has come up missing in the past. People as far away as Austin has heard of how unprofessional the staff is. Maybe now she will start to take notice. There are a lot of people who would love to help but no one has any trust in the shelter. Support a rescue so they can continue to pull animals from high kill shelters. And yes Christ-Yoder is a KILL shelter.

  3. The fact is we don’t have enough resources for people and I think unwanted and abandoned animals should ALL be put down. I know that sounds heartless but I am more concerned with abused kids and families going hungry than I am about animals. I would be all for adoption if it was cheap and easy but it costs about $100 so many cannot afford it. Cats are destroying the bird population too….put them all down. We have 3 times as many animal shelters in the US as there are shelters for battered women and children….now that is messed up!

    1. Wow- that’s really harsh CMC. It’s not the animals fault human beings can be such sorry pathetic scumbags. What are you doing to help the children and families? Are you involved with your church and volunteer groups out there right now helping abused and homeless? There is help for them, they just have to ask. That’s what families and churches are for, and numerous government programs. These pets can’t ask or speak up for help. This kind of mentality is why this country is in the state it’s in. Lack of morals, compassion, commitment and responsibility for your own actions. It is heartless to say put them all down- I feel the same way about people who abuse children, animals and women. Why don’t you change them instead of telling people who they should support?

      1. My daughter is an animal lover, and she worked there for a few months. She is not surprised that it has come to this. She was abused and treated rudely the whole time she worked there, and is a Christian woman who was working hard for them, but someone left a dog out all night and it wasn’t her, but she was fired anyway! That shows you the evil attitude those people who ran the place have. I also agree that adoption fees are too high…people can’t afford $150-$250 to adopt a dog, and it’s not even purebred. I think that local vets should offer their services by rotating each week or two who will be taking care of the animals needs for free. Veterinarians are rich, and if you really got into the vocation because you love animals, show it by treating these poor defenseless creatures! Then the adoption fees could be $25, and the shelter would still make money for bills etc off of that. Staff should be volunteer all except for the manager….that’s it,,,problems solved ~Christ-Yoder…you’re reaping what you sowed ~ learn from it and start giving back to the animal kingdom and their owners/supporters!

  4. Cmc- your ignorance is showing! HUMAN activities such as urban sprawl, pollution, and use of pesticides are the main killers of song birds NOT cats.

    You are so worried about the plight of children, human suffering why aren’t you out donating you time and money on helping them instead of gusling beer and trolling the internet.

    You want people to donate money to kill innocent animals so irresponsible people can continue to have an easy way out . You are admitting that $0.80 out of every $1.00 goes toward killing innocent animals who have done nothing wrong.

    You KILLED almost 10,000 feral cats so you could kill them! You should never have accepted such an animal in the first place. There are people who care for such creatures and you have denied the animal of life for the sins of the irresponsible actions of the humans who dumped them or there ancestors.

    Here is a news flash killing 80% of the animals who are unfortunate enough to land there isn’t saving them it isn’t sheltering them it is killing them. Adoption centers is a misleading term for the nieve people who drop off a companion animal under the guise the animal will be alive long enough to have a snow balls chance in Hades of being adopted should be criminal act nott some thing that people should be supporting.

    1. Good word tl! They really do have demons…I’ve seen them in their hateful faces, so now go get a job at Dollar General! lol

  5. Wow—share an opinion and now I am a “beer guzzling troll”? All because I don’t think we should be using limited resources to warehouse animals who nobody wants. And not that I give a cats a$$ what any of you animal hoarders thinks but yes, I do support with time and money a number of organizations that help battered women, abused children and families living in poverty. I do not think it is humane to keep animals alive when no one loves them and wants to take care of them. For the record I don’t drink beer so “wine guzzling troll” would be more apropos (that’s a big word for appropriate and the s is silent). I killed 10,000 cats? Hmmm I don’t recall doing that but I do hate cats so maybe I did it in a past life as a “beer guzzling cat killer.”

  6. Doesn’t this facility get paid by the municipalities it serves? Where are the public records? Where are the stats on animals PTS?

    Thanks.

  7. I would be happy to donate money and volunteer when you become a no kill shelter. Also, you have too many negative comments about your staff. It would seem someone would address the employee complaint issues. I refuse to help any shelter kill their animals. Humans can be irresponsible, but this is not the fault of the animals. These animals can’t speak for themselves, so they are just put down. Get a heart and maybe the money and the volunteers will come.

  8. Im with CMC completely. We are a pet-loving-owning family that spays, vaccinates and keeps our animals contained at our residence. If any of the other commenters on here had an IQ past that of an ape, then they would realize the ultimate truth: the number of pets that are being killed and housed at these facilities is the PROOF in the PUDDING that people are not responsible for their pets, and both domestic and wild cats and dogs reproduce at a faster rate than people adopt – THIS RATION WILL NEVER BE THE OTHER WAY AROUND. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE ANIMALS than pet owners willing to take them. So what would you have them do?? IF there were not Kill shelters, then your neighborhoods and streets would be RIDDEN with feral diseased dogs and cats running around, heightening the chances for the things they are carrying to be contracted by both existing pets and humans. You little mutt-loving tree-huggers can’t see beyond your undying affection for helpless animals to see the reality of what we are facing with animal population control. You vote for politicians who are all for abortion clinics…..sure lets dispose of humans when its not convenient to care for them. But please…..not the dogs and cats. Catherine Berry…stupidity such as yours…is the reason our country is in the state that it is. Go read some of the horrific facts surrounding feral dogs and cats, and then some back and tell me what you’ve learned. I bet if your neighborhood was littered with strays, you would be calling someone to come get them, and expect for them to find homes for all of them. But the cold hard truth is, if there were half as many people out there who want to adopt as there are strays, then the animal wouldn’t have been a stray to begin with. Really people…..this is not a morals question, its a numbers question….and guess what, we are OUTNUMBERED….and ratio is only GROWING! Face it, most people want kittens and puppies, only a few types are willing to take on grown adoptees. Unfortunately, the same is true of humans….

  9. As for the rude staff…..well all I can say is that If I had to deal with as many complaining idiots as they do, and still have to do all of the dirty work that no one else will do…..yea, I would probably be a little unpleasant too. Thank you Christ-Yoder, for doing the job that none of these morons have the balls to do. Thank you for helping to keep our neighborhoods free of feral diseased animals. Thank you for making sure that these animals are being disposed of properly, and not allowing them to suffer the demise of vehicles and aggravated-gun-bearing-homeowners.

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