EDGECOMB, Maine — Claiming the time was right for a change, the Lincoln County Animal Shelter board of directors elected a new president to replace Lorraine Nickerson, who has served in the capacity for more than 40 years.
“I have hard shoes to fill, but I have good people to help me,” said newly elected President Kathy Williams.
Serving on the board with Williams are Ellen McFarland, secretary; Kim Fletcher, publicity; Lucy Harrington, vice president; Martha Takatsu, treasurer; and Kelly Brook, Lincoln County Animal Shelter newsletter editor.
Williams was elected in June to take the helm from Nickerson, the founder of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter, who will still have a voice on the board and will serve as president emeritus, Williams said.
“We don’t want to take away a piece of her life. She isn’t shut out, just relieved of duties,” said Williams.
Although Nickerson is no longer the president and has no official authority, her knowledge and passion for the organization will be available to the new board.
“We wanted her to stay to lean on,” Williams said. “She is a sounding board for us.”
Board members in a meeting Tuesday said they had already began to prioritize tasks that will bring the organization into the 21st century, which is necessary to continue to provide quality care to its animals.
With the exception of longtime board member Brook, most of the board members are new to the job and admit there will be a learning process.
“This is the first time I have to hold my nose and jump in on the deep end,” said Harrington.
Williams said the board communicates often and works well together. She said the board is meeting as often as needed to address issues as they come up.
“We get a lot of strength from each other,” Williams said.
McFarland, the new secretary, said organizing the shelter’s finances, which includes securing grants to help fund the shelter’s needs, are a top priority.
“We are struggling financially,” McFarland said.
McFarland said the shelter has received some bad publicity lately, and donations have gone down because of it.
Former board member Michaela Stone publicly aired her concerns of alleged mismanagement of the shelter back in May on her Facebook page and in a Lincoln County News story published May 22. Follow-up letters supporting Stone’s concerns also were published in local newspapers. Board members said after the publicity of Stone’s allegations, some regular donors stopped donating to the shelter.
“People don’t know there are two sides to a story,” she said. “Therefore, donations tend to dry up.”
The new board is set to launch its first fundraising campaign of the 2014-15 fiscal year. A card will be mailed this week to prior supporters asking for financial help.
“By virtue of the work we do, the shelter does not have steady income to support operations; therefore, we must seek ongoing financial support from the communities we serve,” the card states.
McFarland said there are so many causes asking for money that many people have been sucked dry.
“We have to become better than we were,” McFarland said.
The Humane Society Thrift Shop in Boothbay is one of the board’s revenue-producing projects. Along with shelter staff, new board members have reorganized the store and added a cash register to track sales, which is imperative for bookkeeping, McFarland said. The board is looking for volunteers to work at the thrift shop, and interested parties can call 586-5604.
Because of some recent criticism that questioned the shelter’s no-kill policy, Williams said it’s important for the public to understand what is meant by a no-kill shelter. She reported there are 5 million to 7 million dogs and cats in shelters nationwide. Of those, 60 percent of the dogs and 70 percent of the cats will be euthanized because of the lack of space in shelters.
According to Williams, the Lincoln County Animal Shelter does not euthanize because of space limitations.
“That is how you define a no-kill shelter,” Williams said.
Williams said the only reasons animals are euthanized are if the animal is extremely aggressive or very ill with no chance of recovery.
“We treat where we can and rehabilitate when possible,” Williams said. “If the animal can’t be fixed, we have to make the hard choice. We don’t take this decision lightly.”