Rough times for Humane Society

The Southern Oregon Humane Society is in desperate need of donations, and officials say the organization will shut its doors if it doesn't receive enough money.

A weak economy paired with an aging facility and increased demand has slowly taken its financial toll on the humane society, according to Interim Executive Director Kathie Olsen.

"There is no more money," said Olsen, who was hired after former executive director Bill Templeman stepped down in June after 14 years.

Olsen was brought in to oversee operations at 2910 Table Rock Road in Medford while the society searches for a permanent replacement for Templeman.

Olsen also was asked to look over the operations of the organization.

"It was a chance to look at everything with a fresh set of eyes," said Olsen, who started work July 1. "When I started to look at the money, my hair stood up."

Olsen said the organization had been operating on a deficit for several months, slowly depleting their reserve fund, which is now completely gone.

"There is no savings," said Olsen.

Now, the society has no choice but to raise $75,000 in the next 60 days and $500,000 in the next year or risk closing its doors.

The money will help negotiate a bank loan, cover long overdue updates to the 80-year-old building, and help the organization to rebuild a cushion of savings.

Olsen says the organization already receives roughly $40,000 a month in donations and adoption and reclamation fees, but that it isn't enough to keep the shelter afloat.

"You never believe the worst is going to happen," said Olsen. "It just isn't enough money."

In an effort to cut as many costs as possible while scrambling for funding, Olsen says the society has suspended publication of its magazine, and postponed bringing out-of-area animals into the shelter.

"Normally we have 50 to 60 dogs, and right now we only have 25," said Olsen.

Typically the local society drives the pet-friendly "Saving Train" bus to other shelters in Southern Oregon and Northern California, rescuing animals believed to be in danger of euthanasia, something the SOHS doesn't do.

Olsen is optimistic the community will step forward and save the shelter, saying the services offered, including taking in animals surrendered by their owners, are vital to the area.

"The stories we hear can break your heart," said Olsen. "To not have this service available would be a devastating thing to do to our community."

Director of Shelter Operations Hillary Hulen says she is convinced the shelter will receive the necessary donations.

"We've been here 83 years," said Hulen, "and I am absolutely confident that the public believes in us."

Hulen said that if just half of the local population donated $1 to the shelter, it would be enough to stabilize the financial condition.

Without the shelter, Hulen says, the animals will be the ones who suffer.

"An awful lot of pets wouldn't have somewhere to go," Hulen said.

Olsen said the organization has a handful of events planned for fundraising, but nothing is official yet. The society is encouraging local business owners to form donation partnerships that make it easy for the public to make donations.

"We are asking businesses to step up," said Olsen. "If you're a masseuse or hairdresser you can offer to donate $1 from every sale."

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer. Reach her at

Share This Story