Connecticut Has Some Catching Up To Do For Animal Shelter Donations.

Connecticut has some catching up to do. The state generally ranks 1st in per capita income amongst all fifty states.  However, it ranks 19th in donations per person in support of animal shelters, according to statistics compiled by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in their November/December 2006 issue of Animal Sheltering magazine.  In this category, Connecticut is surpassed by four of its New England neighbors – Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire – and 14 other states, as well.  Massachusetts leads the country with $9.06 per person in shelter giving, compared to Connecticut’s $3.82 per person. 

Connecticut is only slightly above the national average of $3.48 per person.  Connecticut’s rate of giving is calculated by dividing the total donations to animal shelters by the state’s population, which is over three and a half million.  Described another way, a Connecticut city with a population of 50,000 would see its residents contributing, on average, $191,000 to animal shelters.

Connecticut ranks incrementally better – in 16th place – in the number of shelters per 100,000 residents.  Ranked 2nd in shelter giving, Vermont also ranks 1st in the number of shelters per residents, with 7.54 shelters per 100,000 residents.  Maine ranks third with 3.86 shelters per 100,000 residents, while Connecticut has 1.79 shelters for the same number of residents.  Again, Connecticut ranks just above the national average of 1.13.

Connecticut has what HSUS terms 208 “entities,” including non-sheltered groups.  The estimate of 63 shelters with buildings includes 48 municipal shelters and 15 private shelters. In a year, all 208 Connecticut entities took in $13,392,685, according to the HSUS study.

Compare that to the combined total of $252,072,483 in revenues generated in 2004 by the following twelve national organizations:  American Humane Association, American Anti-Vivisection Society, ASPCA, Best Friends, Foundation for Animal Protection, Friends of Animals, HSUS, International Fund for Animal Welfare, National Humane Education Society, North Shore Animal League, PETA, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.  The total revenue averaged amongst these twelve charities would be over $21,000,000 each, approaching double the 13.3 million donated to all 208 direct care Connecticut groups combined.

Readers can draw their own conclusions from the above numbers, but what is clear is that there is a dire need for additional revenue in Connecticut to provide direct services to animals.  Connecticut is hovering just above the average for the 50 states in both money donated to shelters per person and shelters per 100,000 residents.  Personal experience dictates that the need for helping feral cats, as well as stray and abandoned cats and dogs, is greater than the available financial resources. 

Yes, the financial needs for helping animals are great.  Yet The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that of the wealthiest grant-making U.S. foundations, only one has even an indirect connection to animals – The Nature Conservancy.

My colleague Mary Huhndorf, DVM, is President of MEOW, Inc. in Litchfield, a group that works exclusively with cats living on their own that often have extraordinary physical and/or social needs.  It is estimated that there are as many as 700,000 feral cats in Connecticut.  “There is only a small minority that is not blind to the suffering all around them,” says Dr. Huhndorf of the people reaching out to help these cats.

Do not be blind to the suffering all around you.  Please donate to the animal shelters of your choice.  It is a small gift to make considering the unconditional love that animals provide in return.  Speaking for the animals, I thank you in advance for your generosity.

For the animals, Gregory M. Simpson

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