Virus Diary: Longmont Humane Society takes financial hit

LONGMONT—The Longmont Humane Society is taking care of the animals in its care while looking out for its employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it comes with a financial hit to the organization.

Just a couple of days before Gov. Jared Polis urged the cancellation of events with 250 people or more on March 13, the animal-protection organization voluntarily called off its annual Homeward Bound fundraising event. The fundraiser was scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at the Boulder County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, losing the potential funds of $145,000.

Liz Smokowski is the CEO of the Longmont Humane Society. To ensure the health of employees and slow the spread of the coronavirus, Smokowski and several others are at home. The organization closed its doors to the public on March 18. Photo courtesy of Liz Smokowski

Liz Smokowski, CEO of the Longmont Humane Society, said that “it just did not seem like a prudent thing to continue to hold it.”

On March 18, the organization closed its doors to the public. At this time, closures will continue until April 1. This includes adoptions, the Longmont Humane Society Thrift Store, the health clinic and training classes. Smokowski doesn’t know how much revenue will be lost, but it’s putting funding for the nonprofit at almost zero. Donations are still accepted for mail-in cash and AmazonSmile.

“My concern for the human factor was that many people in the community were not heeding the warnings of social distancing and such, and it was putting our team, our staff, at risk,” Smokowski said.  She added that before closure, the organization limited the number of visitors. The limits frustrated them, and the board of directors decided to simply halt visiting altogether.

The same week of cancellation, a large number of adoptions took place, with 49 pets finding homes from March 14 to 17. Today, 78 animals are in foster homes and 113 in the facility.

With the large surge of adoptions before closing its doors to the public, there’s plenty of room available for stray and lost animals. Even though Longmont Humane Society could take in 400 animals into its facility, it’s urging people to house animals in their own homes. If they are unable to do so, they can arrange an appointment with the intake desk by calling 303-772-1232, extension 246.

Longmont Humane Society serves Longmont, Lyons, Mead, Firestone, Frederick and some unincorporated parts of Boulder County. If pets are lost, and the owners do not have the ability to look for their animals, they should contact their city’s Animal Control, Smokowski said. Pet owners are encouraged to have their animals properly ID-tagged.

The Pet Animal Care Facilities Act under the Colorado Department of Agriculture required shelters to screen foster homes. To ensure the safety of Longmont Humane Society’s employees, they cannot conduct home visits, and interviewers therefore cannot accept new fosters into the system.

Smokowski said the organization typically makes additional monthly payments to its mortgage. It suspended those extra installments temporarily to go into a reserve fund and pay its staff while revenue is down.

The organization has 49 essential staff who are still working, which includes some Animal Care Team handlers, and representatives from the training and health-care teams. The animal handlers are split up into two shifts, with some working Monday through Wednesday, and the others Thursday through Saturday.

Smokowski said that this will create two isolated groups. If a member on one of those teams falls ill, then those workers will be traded out for non-essential workers.

The 34 non-essential workers include administration and thrift-store employees. Non-essential workers who cannot work remotely are asked to stay home and use their paid time off. Longmont Humane Society offered information to non-essential employees in case their PTO reaches its limit. They then would be laid off, with the intention to return when possible.

“We’re trying to stay in touch and make sure that they are healthy physically and emotionally with wherever they are at. I know in their hearts they’re wanting to be back helping. Many of them have expressed that,” Smokowski said. “But again, first and foremost, I have to keep them healthy and safe in order for them to keep the animals healthy and safe in the long run.”

LONGMONT—The Longmont Humane Society is taking care of the animals in its care while looking out for its employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it comes with a financial hit to the organization.

Just a couple of days before Gov. Jared Polis urged the cancellation of events with 250 people or more on March 13, the animal-protection organization voluntarily called off its annual Homeward Bound fundraising event. The fundraiser was scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at the Boulder County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, losing the potential funds of $145,000.

Liz Smokowski is the CEO of the Longmont Humane Society. To ensure the health of employees and slow the spread of the coronavirus, Smokowski and several others are at home. The organization closed its doors to the public on March 18. Photo courtesy of Liz Smokowski

Liz Smokowski, CEO of the Longmont Humane Society, said that “it just did not seem like a prudent thing to continue to hold it.”

On March 18, the organization closed its doors to the public. At this time, closures will continue until April 1. This includes adoptions, the Longmont Humane Society Thrift Store, the health clinic and training classes. Smokowski doesn’t know how much revenue will be lost, but it’s putting funding for the nonprofit at almost zero. Donations are still accepted for mail-in cash and AmazonSmile.

“My concern for the human factor was that many people in…