Despite a banner year with 23,565 animal adoptions and a record-setting $22 million budget, the Animal Humane Society will close one of its five local shelters so it can pour more resources into its other facilities and programs.
The nonprofit announced Monday that it will shutter its Buffalo location in November and offer jobs to 19 staff members at other facilities in Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, Woodbury and St. Paul.
Remaining animals will be sent to the other sites.
Staffers determined during a strategic planning process that the Buffalo facility, on Hwy. 55, is the least busy of the five. It houses about 2,100 animals each year, about 9 percent of the society's annual placements.
Only about 200 of those animals actually came from Buffalo; the rest came from parts of the metro area or were brought to Buffalo by humane society staffers.
"This strategic planning has included an assessment of our five locations and their potential for enhanced service delivery and continued growth. That process has led us to a difficult decision about our underutilized facility in rural Buffalo," President & CEO Janelle Dixon wrote in a letter to staffers, volunteers and donors.
Dixon stressed that the society, which employs 393 people and relies on 2,500 volunteers, is in good financial health.
"We are here. We are going strong. This helps us position for future efforts," she said.
Dixon added that the group will maintain ownership of the shuttered 10-acre property in Buffalo. "We have no plans to sell it. We would like to find a way to support other animal welfare partners," she said.
Those freed-up dollars will be used to help improve existing programs and possibly fund new ventures, she said.
The humane society's mobile clinic, Community Cats program and investigations team will continue to provide services in the area.
The Buffalo area also is served by Crossroads Animal Shelter, located a couple miles west of the society's Buffalo site, and by Tri-County Humane Society in St. Cloud.
In addition to placing pets, the humane society offers 70 training and behavior classes each week, runs a low-cost medical outreach program and provides education and even grief counseling to mourning pet owners.
For now, the nonprofit is working to help its pets and employees in the transition.
"Top of mind for us is looking out for the welfare of the animals in the communities we serve, as well as our employees, and making sure we are providing support," Dixon said.