Recent social media allegations about the mistreatment of animals at the SNYP Animal Shelter, what was formerly the Van Buren County Animal Shelter until its July 1 transfer, has left shelter manager Lori Treat frustrated and concerned about public perception of shelter operations.


Treat’s organization, SNYP (Spay and Neuter Your Pets). took over the shelter July 1 in an agreement reached late last year with the county. The organization is a not-for-profit with an emphasis on domestic animal care.


In the allegations, a Facebook poster on the SNYP webpage, a woman showing to be from the Scotland community, asserted the shelter had upset the work of the county shelter operators by killing animals. Others soon posted, sharing the original posters rage and dismay at this claim.


Treat is concerned how this will impact public perception, since the shelter is now supported, not by the county as it had been in the past, but by donations to the not-for-profit organization running the shelter. She points out that when she offered to take over the shelter to the Quorum Court last year, she told them at the time that it would not be a no-kill shelter until approximately three to five years of operation, a “very reasonable goal,” Treat said.


“It all comes down to cost,” Treat said, “SNYP has to worry about cost.”


Currently shelter operations have a sheltered pet to be evaluated after it has been on site 90 days, Treat said, including evaluating the animal for its adoptability, health and age.


Treat explained that since the SNYP take-over, one dog has been euthanized, a puppy infected with the Parvovirus. (The shelter was closed for two weeks under quarantine just as SNYP took it over, due to a Parvovirus outbreak.) One other dog is currently held for disposal, brought to the shelter by a man after his dog died and being unable to bury it on his own. Otherwise the shelter has killed no animals since SNYP took over, she said.


There are concerns, she said. Right now the shelter has 74 animals on site and she has reached out to the SNYP board for ideas and assistance in helping care for the animals against budget pressures. Complexity here has grown as the Mutt Rescue group, out of Massachusetts, has stopped taking dogs from the shelter due to cost. In the past that organization had been taking several dogs each month.


The problem is with the shelter becoming a not-for-profit, per-animal costs have gone up, Treat said. In the past Mutt Rescue was paying $50 a dog for adoptable animals. Now, with the county no longer subsidizing shelter operations, dogs cost $150 to process in including the various vaccines and care needed. If the $50 price was maintained with Mutt Rescue, the shelter would lose $100 per dog adopted, an amount no longer covered by the county, Treat said.


Still, Treat said, overall adoptions are up, with 13 animals adopted in the past five weeks. This is due to more aggressive marketing than in the past, she said.


In this environment, Treat said, the social media naysayers are making it more difficult both to get the required donations and assistance needed to keep the shelter operating. I donor had already stopped supporting the shelter due to the backlash.


“They’re hurting us more than they’re helping us. It’s hurting the animals,” she said, speaking about the posters and their claims.