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Published: Thursday, 3/31/2005

Monroe County: Humane Society seeks more funds

Shelter manager Lisa McKenzie has canine company in office.
Shelter manager Lisa McKenzie has canine company in office.

MONROE - When you need to raise $1.5 million, every nickel and dime helps. And if it helps clean out the technological closet of Monroe County animal enthusiasts, so much the better.

The Humane Society of Monroe County has announced a new fund-raising initiative which, while initially designed to benefit operations, will contribute long-term in its drive to replace its 50-year-old animal shelter.

The society, in cooperation with a Warren, Mich., based non-profit firm, will be collecting old cell phones that will be recycled, refurbished, and resold in other nations, society executive director Janet O'Brien explained.

"We're trying to get a lot of these small-type fund-raisers that are really little or no work for us," Ms. O'Brien said. The private no-kill shelter has an annual operating budget of about $300,000, all of which must be raised through donations.

Aimee Westover, who usually works with cats, takes care of some dogs in crowded quarters of the Humane Society.
Aimee Westover, who usually works with cats, takes care of some dogs in crowded quarters of the Humane Society.

The phones, which are collected and shipped off to the American Cellular Donation Organization, can bring between 50 cents and $50 per unit to the humane society, depending on the make, model, and age, according to a spokesman for the Warren-based non-profit. ACDO has raised more than $10.5 million for charities nationwide since 1999 by reselling donated cellular phones.

The cell phone donation is one of several fund-raisers being conducted by the Humane Society in hopes of raising the estimated $1.5 million it will need to replace its 50-year-old shelter on North Telegraph Road. The organization is selling carpeted cat tubes and climbing posts, has established two endowed funds at the Community Foundation of Monroe County, collects returnable bottles and cans, and is participating in a nationwide ink jet recycling program.

Though the revenues from these and other programs are small when counted on their own, together Ms. O'Brien said she hopes they will one day add up to a new local shelter.

"When the time is right, we'll launch a full-scale capital campaign for the shelter, but right now we're still trying to find land to move to," Ms. O'Brien said.

Last year, the Society unveiled a locally-produced design for a new 9,000-square-foot shelter that it hopes will one day replace its current 1,200-square-foot building at 833 North Telegraph Rd. The current shelter has room for just 33 dogs and 23 cats, with the dogs in the rear of the building and with only a few canines able to use the small facility's outside runs.

The Humane Society, which operates with private donations and receives no public funds, conducts a number of annual events to raise operating funds for its shelter and other animal-saving activities, including an annual charity auction in the fall.To donate an old cell phone to the drive, contact the Humane Society of Monroe County.

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