MSPCA offers existing shelter building for use by Island
The president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) assured a group of animal control officers, veterinarians, and town and county leaders that despite plans to close Martha's Vineyard's only animal shelter on May 1, the facility will remain available for use in caring for animals.
"The one thing we can bring to the table, and I certainly wanted to share it with you today, is that we have a building that we are fully prepared to make available to the community, to help homeless animals," said MSPCA president Carter Luke in a meeting Tuesday at the Dukes County government offices.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
The MSPCA announced plans to close the shelter on Feb. 5. "I'm sorry it took a couple of weeks for us to come out and talk," said Mr. Luke, who made a special trip to Martha's Vineyard to attend Tuesday's meeting with Jean Weber, the MSPCA's director of animal care and adoption centers.
The late Katharine M. Foote founded the Vineyard shelter that bears her name in 1933. In 1947 she deeded the Edgartown property on which the shelter is located on the corner of Pennywise Path and Vineyard Haven Road to the MSPCA.
In addition to the shelter, the property includes a house and another building in front leased by the MSPCA to veterinarian C. Roger Williams for his business, the Vineyard Veterinary Clinic.
"We're hoping to have a long-term relationship with him, but we haven't had a chance to talk about that yet," said Mr. Luke. No decisions have been made yet about the house, either, he added, although an interested buyer has already called him.
Mr. Luke said that although the details of the shelter's use remain to be worked out, the MSPCA is not looking to make money on the building by selling it or by anything involving raising money to buy or rent it. The use of the building also will include equipment inside, such as cages, which will be not removed.
"We're looking at this building that was put together with the heart and soul of people on Martha's Vineyard to help homeless animals, and it is our intent to have that building continue to be available to some kind of responsible entity that steps forward to help homeless animals," said Mr. Luke.
"It's just very heartening to see that your focus is on maintaining the community's needs for the animals, and it's a great place to start," said Dukes County manager Russell Smith.
The county's interest in the shelter project is to provide, if asked to do so, an umbrella organization for the Island-wide effort, Mr. Smith said. Despite the county's financial constraints, he added, "We do well at administration and provide a regional body to do so - we're willing to do so."
A matter of money
In addition to the Martha's Vineyard shelter, the MSPCA also announced plans to close animal care and adoption centers in Springfield and Brockton, based on economics.
"We've been around for a long time, and never in a million years did I dream that I was going to be in the situation of being the president of the MSPCA during a massive economic meltdown in America that would have such an impact on us," Mr. Luke said.
Mr. Smith asked him if Martha's Vineyard's MSPCA facility ran in the red, and if so, how much will be needed to keep it going.
"Essentially, yes," Mr. Luke said. "Just to give you an overall financial picture here, last year, our deficit for the Vineyard was about $135,000. That does not include any capital issues - it does not include the general administrative costs, such as accounting, management, human resources, supervision - that's all provided by central administration."