I am a founder of Friends of Gonzales Animal Shelter (FOGAS) and have served as its treasurer and tax preparer since its inception. I attended the council meeting on Thursday and want to share these comments.
Fiscal responsibility is a priority taxpayers appreciate. This letter will point out how FOGAS has been an integral part of keeping costs down on behalf of the City while providing excellent care and rehoming of unwanted pets in this community.
FOGAS could not have operated the cat shelter as it did with ONLY the funding provided by the City. FOGAS received funding from contributions from many individuals and charitable foundations. In addition, FOGAS received a generous bequest from the Estate of Bim Miller which provided an additional backup for many years.
FOGAS has given up cat shelter management but still will be operating in the community with the same intent to benefit all animals. Thanks to Mary Anne MacLean, FOGAS has received grants totaling over $500,000 in past years.
Most of this money has gone for the "free" spay and neuter programs for the cats and dogs of Gonzales. (This year all the slots were filled within three hours of opening the signup.) This money is NOT income to FOGAS. It is out and in; we pay, DSHS reimburses. In other words, taxpayers benefit, not FOGAS. The amount these grants save the City is enormous in labor and money, but impossible to quantify. These grants will not be available unless the City can maintain our no-kill status.
FOGAS came to the rescue when the City became concerned about the many horses kept within the City, out of ordinance compliance. FOGAS members spent hours over years revising the horse ordinance.
We sponsored "Horse Health Days" for several years where we offered discounted vaccinations, worming, access to a veterinarian while we worked with the horse owners to upgrade their facilities and achieve compliance. The situation is reversing now.
An officer called me in the spring for help. I started planning and organizing and then he did not return my calls. In giving up shelter management, FOGAS will be in a better position to help with other animal issues.
Kingdom Rescue seems to offer our best solution. Since GPAW is not able to continue as they intended, FOGAS volunteers are at the shelter helping out as best they are able. But FOGAS management is no longer an answer.
The City must find something else, and Kingdom Rescue is ready to go in a short few weeks. I hope the City Council will see Kingdom Rescue as the only viable solution at this time. Issues around animal services, like community cats and horse concerns, can be discussed with FOGAS and Kingdom Rescue, but for now, we need Kingdom Rescue to have a chance to manage the shelter.
Judith Tor is treasurer and a board member for the Friends of Gonzales Animal Shelter (FOGAS).