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A brighter future for the Humane Society of the Ochocos
New executive director is confident that he can turn the financial condition of the shelter around quickly
Jerilee Drynan, of the Humane Society of the Ochocos, paints the inside of a new cat condo at the shelter. Once completed, the enclosure will provide a new home for cats at the facility.
February 11, 2013
Stephen Drynan does not feel that the Humane Society of the Ochocos has managed its finances as efficiently as it could in the past.
In the past month, the new executive director has taken steps to change that in an effort to lower expenses and explore new ways to generate additional income. Many of those ideas stem from his prior experience as a shelter director in The Dalles, Ore.
“The biggest thing is this is a humane society, but it’s still a business,” he said. “It has to be run like a business and in the past, I don’t think it has been run like it should as far as management goes.”
Drynan has initially made small changes in order to attack the expense side of the ledger, which he considers the most pressing need at this point.
“I have gotten several new shelter contracts with people we do business with,” he said. “I have cut my vaccination prices by probably 60 percent. Just going through somebody else for our overall medical supplies we use — that’s a huge cut right there.”
Because he is still transitioning into his new role, Drynan has not yet run the exact numbers to determine the savings. Nevertheless, he could comfortably estimate that the changes he has made will save the shelter $1,000 or more per month.
Drynan said he had to dial in the correct labor for the Humane Society as well, which meant some restructured hours for some employees as well as staff reductions.
“If you have too many people, you are putting out too much for what less can do.”
This effort also means that Drynan will serve the dual role of executive director and shelter manager.
“Right now, until such time as I bring in the amount of income I need to bring in, I do the job of . . . both,” he said.
Humane Society board president Greg Lynch declined to disclose the exact pay that Drynan now earns, but he stressed that the shelter added no new positions and the hire has not resulted in increased expenses.
According to a 990 form filed by the Humane Society of the Ochocos in 2011, the shelter paid $126,446 in total payroll and $111,756 in 2010. This amount includes not only the shelter manager position, but other paid staff as well.
“Drynan’s salary is probably very close to, if not the same as what we were paying the old manager with all of the overtime and things she was charging,” Lynch said. “Our expenditures are less monthly than they were before we made these changes.”
Drynan did not disclose his pay either, but similarly stated that it closely matches the income of the previous shelter manager.
Because the Humane Society of the Ochocos does not euthanize the animals it takes in, Drynan plans to strengthen relationships with other shelters and utilize other tools to shorten the time they keep the animals, and in turn cut costs.
He will keep communications open with other shelters including the Oregon Humane Society. Doing so will enable him to transfer certain breeds of dogs to facilities who typically adopt the breed out more quickly.
To increase revenue, the shelter has begun a bottle and can fundraising effort and intends to offer a retail area in the shelter to sell dog food and other pet items.
“The stuff that we use here is going to be for sale with dogs when they go out,” Drynan explained.
In order to make room for the retail items, the shelter is building a cat condo, a structure that resembles the larger cages at pet stores where cats play and interact in an open space. Right now, the cats are kept in cages that line the front wall of the shelter. Once they discontinue use of those cages, they will reserve that wall space for retail merchandise.
Drynan noted that the change in cat accommodations will likely improve feline health and cut health care costs in the process.
“Cats that are in cages like that are more prone to disease because they are stressed,” he said.
As he cuts expenses and boosts revenue, Drynan has not stated any plans to stop collecting monthly contributions from the City of Prineville and Crook County. Right now, each entity pays the shelter $3,000 per month.
“At the end of the day, we are a business,” he said, “and if we are going to take the strays of the community . . . then there needs to be a contract. We are providing a service.”
During the past year, local leaders have reached a similar conclusion. The Crook County Court agreed to continue the payments this past summer, and Crook County Judge Mike McCabe stated at the time that the County would face a much higher cost if they tried to run their own shelter.
Prineville City Manager Steve Forrester and other City staff similarly crunched numbers and determined the Humane Society contributions paled in comparison to the expense they would incur if they ran their own facility.
In 2011, according its 990 form, the HSO took in $337,850 in revenue and its expenditures came to $260,841, a difference of $77,009. Of that revenue, $262,884 came courtesy of contributions and gifts while government grants accounted for $66,285 and investment and other income made up the remaining $8,681.
Because he intends to continue taking public money, Drynan has stressed a desire to increase transparency and ensure that citizens know where their money is going. To that end, he plans to provide the City with quarterly financial reports, something they have requested since they began contributing money to the shelter each month.
Forrester expects the Humane Society to deliver that report no later than the end of March during a public Prineville City Council meeting.
As he delivers those reports, Drynan expects to provide encouraging results based on his past experiences running other animal shelters.
“I am bringing in ideas that we know have worked,” he said. “We went from teetering on closing to, in 18 months, being $120,000 in the black, so I know these ideas work.”