Letter to the Editor
The Tombstone Small Animal Shelter which was started in 1977 and has served the community of Tombstone since that time, caring for stray and surrendered dogs and cats.
The Shelter is in trouble. Money keeps coming in thankfully, to care for the continuing revolving door for dogs and cats. Right now they are full to capacity for cats and are taking care of 8 puppies until they can be spayed and neutered and go to their homes. Another 8 puppies are coming in early October. This is not counting the adult dogs.
That’s not the problem. They are running out of volunteers! Several have been volunteering at the Shelter since the 1990’s, no disrespect but they are now senior citizens and have physical limitations. Without having exact statistics the largest number of the remaining volunteers, though they haven’t volunteered as long, are also getting older and many already have physical limitations. Some work with cats only and they seem to be able to manage scheduling for their care but dogs take more time, strength and energy. They currently have two volunteers that are paid a stipend and are doing the lions share of the work but that leaves no one if they are ill or need time off. In the past dog walkers have provided exercise for dogs twice a day. Currently there aren’t enough to cover once a day for all seven days a week.
For several years the Shelter has been open for adoptions on Saturday afternoons. All but one Saturday a month two volunteers go to Sierra Vista to PetSmart or Cal-Ranch for off-site adoptions. The rest of the time adoptions are done by appointment 6 days a week at the convenience of the adoption coordinator and the adopter, that actually accounts for the largest percentage of the adoptions, off-site adoptions account for the second highest percentage and the rest are adopted on Saturdays at the shelter. The volunteers for Saturday afternoons have dwindled to two. Each doing one Saturday a month. So guess what! The Shelter is closed for adoptions the rest of the Saturdays – but the dogs still need to be fed, exercised and kennels cleaned, so they are back to asking the two stipend paid volunteers to cover! Wonder how long that will last before they burn out working 6 or 7 days a week?
THE SHELTER NEEDS MORE VOLUNTEERS! Even if they have to pay the stipend (at least for now there is money but the more paid out the sooner money will be used up). Ads have been paid for in out of town newspapers and free ads have been placed in the two local newspapers. No one answered.
At this rate, as volunteers leave and no one takes their place, the Tombstone Small Animal Shelter will have to close their doors – at least to dogs for now, if it gets worse the Shelter won’t be able to take care of cats either.