What Happens “When Life Is Precious” Runs Out Of Money?

A Candid Conversation With Kim K.

Friends of the APCSM will know that the shelter was recently blindsided by the sudden health crisis of resident guest dog Jodi on Friday, October 13th. If you’re not familiar with the story you can read it here but the upshot is that Jodi is currently paralyzed from her middle down and looking at a long and expensive road full of physical therapy and medications on her way to a full and meaningful life.

At the shelter we are dedicated to treating the medical needs of any animals that come in but we’ve also made it part of our mission not to turn any animal that needs our help away if we can possibly help it. Jodi’s story is just the latest in what has been an exceptionally busy year of treating animals with medical needs above and beyond typical at the APCSM, animals like:

  • Little One, the kitten with the broken leg

  • Arwen, the cat with the jaw tumor

  • Bella, the dog with cancer

  • Emme the Chinchilla with severe eye infections in both eyes

  • Bob Marley, the cat with severe dread-lock like mats

and of course, the Great Ringworm Outbreak of 2017 (as a side note I truly believe we should start selling t-shirts that read “I survived the Great Ringworm Outbreak of 2017”). Part of this “popularity” is, ironically, because we’re becoming more and more successful. This year has marked an upswing in visibility programs for the shelter ranging from television appearances on WBZ’s Pet Parade, to radio interviews and Pet Of The Week mentions on several stations, to new events like Dogtoberfest and Pages With Pets which let the community know about who we are and what we do. This is all fantastic because the more people know about the APCSM, the more people will come to adopt our animals. The other side however is that as more people learn about the shelter and it’s mission word has gotten out that if someone has an animal to surrender they can bring it to the APCSM and not only will we find it a new home but we’ll treat any medical issues and get the animal healthy first. We do this with money that we take from a fund dedicated for this purpose, called “Life Is Precious.” The money comes from donations that people have specifically asked go towards the medical care of animals in need. In fundraiser speak, it’s “restricted” to that purpose. In 2017 we have taken in more animals that need special care than ever before and so far this year alone we’ve spent over 30K in above-the-norm animal medical care. For the record, that’s a lot more than we’ve taken in for the same purpose which finally gets us to the title of this week’s blog post. What happens when Life Is Precious runs out of money which, in case you were wondering, we did somewhere around 10am on Saturday, October 14. That’s when Jodi had her MRI.

It took a bit of explanation to get here so so I’ll cut to the chase. The first thing that happens when LIP goes dry is that we start to run a tab. Over the years we’ve built a great relationship with both of our partner veterinary offices, VCA South Shore for emergency services (think Jodi’s sudden paralysis) and Lloyds for non-emergencies and ongoing needs (Jodi’s long term physical therapy). These two great businesses not only give us a significant discount on services but they also extend us credit when funds get tight. In the interest of transparency, we currently have a tab of around 6K with the VCA and Lloyd’s sends us another big number that we pay off every month.

The next thing that will happen is that we’ll have to suspend treatments for animals in need. That’s not only painful for us but trickier than it sounds. You see, if someone comes in with an animal in need of treatment we can refer them to other shelters that may be able to help or even some low cost veterinary clinics that we know of; we hate sending them away but we will if we have to. If animal currently in residence gets sick or injured though, we’re in trouble. Again in the interest of transparency we do have the capability to euthanize at the APCSM and we do it occasionally. If someone comes in with a terminal animal and can’t afford the veterinary bill for euthanasia we’ll help. As another example, sometimes Brockton Animal Control will come in with an animal they’ve picked up that’s sick or badly injured past the point of help so we’ll do it then. However, LIP has always afforded us the luxury of being able to say that if an animal can be treated it will be treated. The state of the fund right now puts that in jeopardy and believe me, it’s torturing us here. We practice plenty of preventative care at the APCSM, keeping animals up to date with shots and testing, feeding good quality food, maintaining clean facilities, and washing or sanitizing our hands after every animal contact to cut down on the spread of any germs. All of this hard work means that so far we haven’t had any cases that require additional medical care but we all know that it can’t last forever and we dread the possibility that an animal will get sick before we can replenish the fund and pay off our debt.

Right about now you’re thinking this is the part where I guilt you and ask you for money.

I’m not going to guilt you and ask you for money. Well … not today.

We have 8,000 likes on Facebook and our website sees thousands more in unique visits every month. Our mailing list is over 7,000 strong and that’s not even counting the people who receive our monthly e-newsletter. In short, a lot of people like animals and like the way we help them. We’re proud of that and want to keep doing it. Keep growing the shelter, keep helping connect animals with their forever families, keep treating animals in need. To do that we need to be open and clear about when, where, and how we spend our money. We need to let you know how we spend it and what happens when we run out of it. That’s how we become and stay Southeastern Massachusetts’ community animal shelter.

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