Valley Humane Society broke, may close | July 29, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 29, 2011

Valley Humane Society broke, may close

Donated building adds to costs as contributions dwindle

by Jeb Bing

The Valley Humane Society, a 25-year-old nonprofit animal welfare organization that just moved into a new $1.3-million building, announced Tuesday that it is out of money and may close within the next 30 days.

Most of the money for the new building on Nevada Street next to the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department headquarters was donated by the late Joyce Keeler, a Livermore school teacher who died in 2005. It was designated specifically for the building. However, a confluence of declining contributions and increased demand as the recession took hold in 2009 has left VHS without sufficient funds to operate the larger, more costly facility.

So at a time when leaders of the Humane Society had planned a festive community dedication of their new headquarters building, they find themselves, instead, pleading for financial help and facing closing down the nonprofit.

The organization's recently hired Executive Director Melanie Sadek, who worked with the VHS board of directors to sort out the funding dilemma, said the organization urgently needs a cash infusion of $125,000 to continue its services through November, when contributions traditionally start to increase.

Tuesday, Sadek sent the following email message to supporters:

"I wanted to send you this letter to share some alarming news about the state of Valley Humane Society. At this time, the organization is suffering a major financial shortage due to the decrease in donations and the increase in operating expenses. This week we are sending out an appeal to the community for assistance. I felt it necessary, however, to inform you about our situation before you heard it through the media.

"As a supporter of Valley Humane Society, I would like to ask you to be an ambassador for our cause. Your value to our organization is immeasurable. I know that with your help we can pull through this dire situation.

"Please help us by passing on the message in the flyer below to friends, family members, community groups, religious institutions and all social media outlets. Your support makes a major difference to Valley Humane Society. This is your organization and without you there wouldn't be a VHS."

VHS, staffed largely by volunteers, is the only no-kill shelter in Pleasanton. It receives no local, state or federal funding and has always relied on community donations to survive.

In a joint statement signed by Sadek and Lori Rice, president of the VHS board of directors, VHS said it has already reduced by half the number of animals cared for by the organization's staff and volunteers.

"If VHS doesn't receive significant funding in the next 30 days, we will be force to cut staff and programming, after which our final option will be to close the shelter," the statement reads. "These measures will directly affect the hundreds of cats and dogs in the Tri-Valley and thousands of residents who depend on our programs."

A monetary donation of any amount can be made by visiting the organization's website at Donations also will be accepted over the counter or by mail at the VHS headquarters, 3670 Nevada St., Pleasanton, CA 94566.

For more information, visit the website or call 426-8656.


Posted by Sounds like poor financial planning, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

What is the salary of Sadek, the executive director who is now asking for 125K to keep operations going?

Also, from reading the article, it seems like the financial problems are mostly due to moving the the new and more expensive facility.

It sounds like poor financial planning.

Posted by it is poor planning, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm

No one will say what Sadek is paid but a good guess is about $125K per year. Yeah, coincidental, huh?
The new facility was built with a donation for that purpose. Apparently no thought was given to the maintenance of that facility. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The fact remains (read the other post on this topic) that Sadek is first and foremost a retail store owner. She is only then a part time director of VHS. And she is being paid a full time salary. More stupidity and fiscal irresponsibility.
I no longer donate to United Way in light of the half million dollar salaries paid to top executives. I will also stop my monthly donations to VHS until they show some fiscal responsibility. That starts with getting either a fulltime director or making Sadek's position voluntary with no pay.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I love animals but I don't care if the Valley Humane Society closes. too bad...

If the top guy receives a salary of $125,000 yrly., I will do the job for a mere $90,000. is it a deal?

If you pay me a decent salary, there is guarantee that I'll show up and do the job.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Correction: ...there is NO guarantee that I'll show up for work!

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm

As usual, there are lot of people turning off their brains and making idiotic comments. Read the article again. The article says that the VHS needs $125,000 to keep going. Nowhere does it say that the executive director is making $125,000. If any of you fools can provide a link or any evidence that the executive director makes $125,000, then show it. Otherwise, just shut up until you can think of something intelligent to say.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm

"poor planning" said: "No one will say what Sadek is paid but a good guess is about $125K per year. Yeah, coincidental, huh?"

Yes, what a coincidence that your totally baseless guess EXACTLY MATCHES the amount VHS needs to operate! Amazing! How did you do that?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I will not rest until this problem is solved!

Posted by Jenanne, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Seems to me that $125,000 would feed a lot of starving people.

Posted by Melanie, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I do believe that VHS is a valuable organization to have in our community. True 125k would feed a lot of people, however showing compassion toward animals is also a worthy cause. It was people that domesticated dogs and cats and therefore we as a society have a responsibility to them. It’s not everybody’s choice to give to an animal charity, nor should it be, there are many worthy causes that need our support. I adopted all three of my pets from VHS. If I were in a place where I was having trouble feeding them for a short while, I would be eternally grateful for the Animeals program they have. Or if my grandmother needed assistance with pet food for her cat they would help. VHS has programs for youths which include everything from care and compassion of animals to a reading program. If you are worried about their fiscal responsibility I would urge you to talk with them to get answers before writing off an entire organization that has served our community for 25 years.

Posted by it is poor planning, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

More than one person on these various threads has questioned the salary of the director. No answer has been forthcoming. If an organization is asking the community for $125,000 and the community asks how much a very part time director is making then an answer would seem to be in order.
It is not reasonable to expect people who are struggling to pay their own bills to donate that kind of money into a pit with no answers.
How about just this? VHS lists their total gross revenue and their total payroll. By default just about all of the net would be used for the housing, care, etc of the animals. That would give us a very good idea of how much of our donations would be benefiting the animals versus going to salaries. It is not out of line for donors to ask how much of their donations pay for salaries and how much actually does some good.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm

"poor planning" said: "More than one person on these various threads has questioned the salary of the director. No answer has been forthcoming."

What do you mean "no answer has been forthcoming"? Do you mean that you've actually called up the VHS and asked them what the director makes? Or are you griping that none of the three or four people posting on this thread knows the answer?

The VHS is a non-profit organization, and as such I believe that it's required to make most or all of its financial records open to the public. I'm not sure whether or not that includes the salary of the executive director, but in view of its current financial crisis you wouldn't be out of line if, as a potential donor, you asked them how much their executive director makes. You would be perfectly justified in asking this question and I believe that they, as a non-profit, should be obligated to answer. So what's it going to be? Are you going to actually bother to pick up the phone and call them and to get some hard facts? Or are you and the other critics here going to continue to rely on your own imaginations?

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