By Megan Alley
The Clermont County Commissioners named Clermont Animal Compassion, Advocacy, Rescue and Education (CARE) as the new operator of the county animal shelter during their regular meeting on Nov. 29.
Clermont Animal CARE will take the reins from the shelter’s current operator, Clermont to the Rescue Humane Society, on Jan. 1, 2018.
“We’re really excited, and we’re looking forward to making some positive change in the community,” Carolyn Evans, Clermont Animal CARE’s executive director, said.
The commissioners approved the non-profit as the shelter’s new operator for a one-year term – for the amount of $310,000 – with the option to extend the contract for an additional two years.
The county put out a request for proposals in September, to which Clermont to the Rescue Humane Society, which has managed the animal shelter since Jan. 1, 2015, and Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society were the only applicants.
A three-person panel of county employees evaluated each proposal and interviewed representatives from both organizations, and ultimately made a recommendation to the commissioners that Clermont Animal CARE be selected for the contract.
“I’m confident that we fully complied with the competitive sealed proposal process specified in Ohio Revised Code,” Andy Kuchta, interim assistant county administrator, said, adding that this was his first time taking a project through the competitive sealed process.
He also pointed out the attributes of Clermont Animal CARE.
“They were professional, they were prepared, and they had a positive attitude throughout this entire experience,” Kuchta said. “The strong leadership team and extensive partnership network that they have, I believe they’ll be able to execute on the goals listed in their proposal.”
He added, “It’s a very impressive team.”
Clermont Animal CARE was formed earlier this year specifically to present a proposal to the commissioners to operate the shelter, Evans said.
The members of its board of directors and advisory board have all been active in animal welfare, foster and rescue groups, including Smith’s Pit Stop, My Furry Valentine, the League for Animal Welfare and Save the Animals Foundation.
Through the application process, Clermont Animal CARE focused on its reliance on partnerships, and it included 17 letters of support, according to a press release.
The organization’s proposal included a pledge to reduce shelter intake, accept owner surrenders and engage the community through opportunities to volunteer, foster, donate and adopt, with an ultimate goal to operate as an open admissions, no-kill shelter, Evans said.
To achieve these goals, the organization plans to apply for grants, solicit donations and hold fundraising events. To date, Clermont Animal CARE has raised $100,000 in donor pledges and $3,000 in spay/neuter subsidies, according to a press release.
“There’s so much positive energy around the upcoming transition. It makes us feel really good because we do know that we can’t do this alone; no one organization can,” Evans said. “We literally came together and said, ‘What can we do for Clermont County, and who do we need to make that happen,’ and we formed our group with that idea in mind.”
She added, “From a leadership perspective, we’ve done a really good job pulling together representatives from the business community, and more importantly from the animal welfare community, that we need to make real and sustainable change, but we also know that we are absolutely going to need the support of the general public and the community to fortify that mission.”
Logistically, the Clermont Animal CARE team plans to hit the ground running in the New Year.
“We’re going to have three teams – we’re going to have a team of vets and vet techs, we’re going to be doing health/medical screenings on every single animal, and then we’re going to be doing behavioral assessments on every single animal so we know what we’re dealing with, and then we’re going to just do a thorough cleaning and just get started fresh, and that’s going to be day one,” Evans said. “And, I’m not sure that it’s going to get done in a day, but that’s our highest priority.”
Evans also noted that the organization’s plans for staffing up include making opportunities available to the shelter’s existing team.
“We recognize the value of continuity and the knowledge that those staff and volunteers bring about the animals, and the relationships they have too,” Evans said. “Not only do they love those animals, but I’m sure many of those animals have a special bond with their caregivers, and we’re not going to break those bonds.”
She added, “If people are comfortable working under new leadership and they are inline with our vision … we will take every volunteer and we will give every employee there a right of consideration, except for some of the key leadership positions where we just know that we have to have somebody who really understands and believes in our mission and can lead that from the top down.”
For more information about Clermont Animal CARE, visit the organization’s website at www.clermontanimalcare.org.