Good Faith Approval of $30,000 Added by Huntington Council to Keep Animal Shelter Doors Open

Updated 5 years ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

Acting on an assessment of financial conditions (past and present) and a list of improvements, Huntington City Council has approved restoring another $30,000 of its annual contribution to the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter.

City Finance  Director Deron Runyon explained to council prior to passage of the budget revision that the Shelter’s still owed debt to the city related “primarily” back as far as April 2010. Runyon attributed $33,000 of the debt to insurance, $3,000 to telephone charges and $18,000 in fuel costs.

Councilman Steve Williams indicated that the look at the shelter finances had comes as a result of an “audit by this council.”

Runyon agreed that apparently some invoices “did not make their way” to the ultimate person in charge of processing them.

As a result, Williams stated that the $30,000 will go toward a “good faith effort” at keeping the shelter doors open and that the animal shelter through its current fiscal management will be making a “good faith” effort to repay the debt to Huntington.

John Brumley, President of the Tri State Home Builders Association, announced during the Good and Welfare portion of the meeting that Nancy’s School of the Dance had contributed $3,000 from a fundraiser to the Friends of the Shelter. The money goes for “buying all the materials necessary” for constructing a cover on the outside enclosure before winter. “We can now get a cover over the top,” Brumley stated.

Acknowledging “they have all kinds of bills to pay,” he stressed a litany of improvements that have been made at the shelter since the hiring of Executive Director James Cumm in March 2012.  Cumm had been Putnam Counties Recreation Activities Coordinator . A 2009 Athletic Business article identified him as instrumental in bringing ice skating to the West Virginia County.

He was also director of the Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Commission based on reports in the Lincoln Journal and

Brunley emphasized that under the Cumm watch a volunteer committee has been established, the shelter is open later hours, multiple off site adoptions have been held, dog walkers now socialize dogs, sponsorships have been solicited to help defray costs, and co-operation has been established with rescue organizations.  “He’s making an effort,” citing his willingness to attend a “no kill” conference.

Cumm told council , “I want the shelter to be a part of the community” and acknowledged that his time at the shelter have been a “difficult road.” He painted a verbal picture of transforming the shelter’s reputation from unpleasant to favorable.

“I want to give the perception of the animal shelter to a different identity  (from) the bad dark place  (depicted in the Disney movie) “Lady and the Tramp.” It needs to change,” Cumm said.

While stating that Huntington-Cabell-Wayne was “never intended to be a no kill facility,” he stressed that since he took over the “save rate” of animals taken in by the shelter has nearly doubled.

During Good and Welfare, Brumley addressed councilman Jim Insco’s  frequent statement that citizen of Huntington pay twice for services due to their also living in Cabell County. Brumley cited a Humane Society statistic for animal care. He subtracted the population of Cabell County from the total then explained, “We are not counting Huntington twice. $125,000 (would be) about half the minimum standard of the Humane Association.”

Director Cumm is the subject of a complaint filed by a former volunteer coordinator at the shelter that alleges, among other details, improper administration of euthanasia. He has been a certified West Virginia  technician for administering the drugs since September 28, 2012.

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