Archive for Thursday, December 8, 2011

Humane Society director’s salary finalized at $70K

Pay is $20K more per year than her predecessor earned

December 8, 2011


Lawrence Humane Society executive director Dori Villalon met with shelter volunteers and community members Wednesday, June 15, at The Oread.

Lawrence Humane Society executive director Dori Villalon met with shelter volunteers and community members Wednesday, June 15, at The Oread.

The Lawrence Humane Society has finalized a contract with its new executive director, and also agreed to boost the salary of the position by $20,000.

Dori Villalon has been serving as executive director of the organization since July, but for the last six months she was working under a temporary contract while the position was under evaluation by the society’s board of directors.

Villalon on Wednesday confirmed that as of Dec. 1 she became a full employee of the Humane Society. The board confirmed that her new salary is $70,000 per year, up from $50,000 that the board was paying previous director Midge Grinstead.

“We recognize Dori’s salary is higher than the previous director, but she brings extensive experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, human resources, and shelter operations,” said Megan Hiebert, vice chair of the board of directors for the Lawrence Humane Society.

Hiebert also said the board used a compensation analysis completed by the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators to confirm that the $70,000 annual salary was in the range of what shelters of a similar size offer their top executive.

Villalon — who came to Lawrence after serving as the vice president of animal protection for the American Humane Association in Denver — said she’s been pleased with some changes that the organization’s staff already have been able to make at the shelter.

“I feel like we have a shelter where the animals are healthier and are less crowded,” Villalon said. “We have seen an increase in contributions too. People, I believe, are appreciative of coming into a shelter that is friendly and well-organized.”

Villalon said she’s made reducing the number of euthanizations at the shelter a goal, and so far has seen success. She said total euthanizations are down by 34 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Overall, Villalon said, the shelter has a “live release rate” of 63 percent. In past years, Villalon said, live release rates for the shelter were less than 50 percent. The live release rate measures the number of animals that leave the shelter alive, either through adoptions, transfers or return to owners.

Villalon said part of the increase in live release rates stems from a new policy on handling adoption requests. Previously, Villalon said, the shelter had a two-day waiting period before a person could take an animal home. Villalon said the shelter has changed the screening process so that adoptions can now happen in a single day.

She also said the shelter has focused on trying to have fewer animals in the shelter, which creates healthier animals that are more adoptable. Villalon said total animal numbers at the shelter previously had been high, in part, because the shelter frequently served as a staging area when state officials had seized animals from illegal kennels and other such cases. Villalon said the shelter is participating less frequently in those types of boardings.

Other accomplishments, Villalon said, include:

• Increase of 67 percent in cat adoptions in 2011 compared to the same period a year ago.

• Creation of a new “Catopia” room that allows cats to live together in a cage-free environment.

• Purchase of a new software system that allows employees to track medical and behavioral information for each animal.

• Increase in the amount of outdoor play time for shelter dogs.

• Institution of an “open office” program where members of the public can stop by the shelter any Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to discuss shelter matters with Villalon.

Villalon said she’s optimistic the organization will be able to fund an on-staff veterinarian in 2012 to handle spay and neutering procedures and to provide more timely health care to animals.

The shelter also has reopened its volunteer program after closing it to evaluate its operations. The program reopened in November. The shelter is now suggesting that volunteers make a $15 donation to the shelter in order to cover the cost of providing training for volunteers.

“But if someone can’t pay it or isn’t comfortable paying it, that is not a problem,” Villalon said. “People absolutely can volunteer without making the donation.”


Clint Church 6 years, 5 months ago

Funny how Midge wasn't good enough to run the local Humane Society but is now over all of them in the state of Kansas.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

Midge was more than good enough. Note the current director is not raking in animals from seizers. Midge took them all in. I expect ride animals are now being killed after s life of abuse. I"v stopped by and there are far less animals there than in the past.

lawrencenerd 6 years, 5 months ago

That isn't how it works. The state doesn't seize animals and then bring them to Lawrence or kill them. They distribute the animals to shelters across the state with space to take them. Overcrowding a shelter isn't necessary to keep animals from being euthanized.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

Iv been watching veryclosely the pet's on web site, posted on Craigslist and those posted as adopted on the board in the lobby. Iv been there too and the animals are being killed.

impska 6 years, 5 months ago

A few years ago, we adopted a kitten from the Lawrence Humane Society. The conditions were pretty disgusting. She was probably the tenth cat we approached the staff about, but were told that someone was already waiting to adopt the others. We jumped through our hoops and the kitten we brought home was filthy and covered in feces. Over the next six weeks, we were at our vet every single week because this kitten had pretty much every parasite you might expect to find in an overcrowded shelter. Sadly, she also had a communicable disease that was fatal.

Since then, we have not returned to the Humane Society to adopt.

Last month, however, I brought some cans in for their spay and neuter program and the difference in that place was nothing short of amazing. The animals looked cleaner, the cages were less crowded, the establishment seemed cleaner (and smelled better) and frankly, the staff seemed friendlier.

After seeing the difference under this new management, I will probably consider adopting from the Lawrence Humane Society again.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 5 months ago

I will comment on Sarah S.' words above ^^^. Euthanasia is never a happy time but at what point does the "humane" is Humane Society become a misnomer?

There was a point in time when I thought that cat's brought to the shelter would have a better chance at survival in the streets, have a better life in the streets, and perhaps the only "humane" thing to do would be spay/release or euthanasia, depending upon its upbringing.

I have not visited the shelter since the Midge controversy.

gatekeeper 6 years, 5 months ago

You are totally correct!!!!! They need to take a look at the Humane Society of KC to see how a real shelter is run. They are no kill and partnered with the KCK animal shelter. They reduced the number of euthanizations from the KCK shelter down to I believe 2%. I would love for the worthless board and new director to explain why the Lawrence shelter has a kill rate of 37%. Please, explain that one people!

I used to give big money to the shelter, but now will only take supplies to them. I now give my large monetary donations to the Humane Society of KC.

For years I have rescued cats and used to work with Midge to find homes. After talking to the board, I am now getting these animals fixed, taking care of them and having them live in my backyard until I can find them homes. I've given up and brought a couple into my home and added them to my clan because it's hard to find homes and know that at the shelter there's a good chance they'd just end up killing them.

I think the board also should explain why so many long-time contributors have now refused to give to the shelter because of what the board has done. Some have even removed their names from rooms they gave money to set up because they are so disgusted with what the place has become.

This story is fluff. The real truth still isn't being told.

sandrat7 6 years, 5 months ago

Please also consider the Jefferson County Humane Society They are just getting off the ground and could use the support. Loads of people still 'dump' cats and dogs in the country. I have taken in 8 in the past couple of years and when we got dumped on this year (momma plus 5) I took them to the shelter. I have been responsible and had all of 'ours' altered, but I can't stop heartless lazy people from dumping animals. The JF County shelter is simple and clean, the people are kind and caring. They exist on donations, no help from county government.

MYOB 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd say she has "extensive experience in nonprofit management"! She's "managed" to squeeze an extra $20K out of a budget that seems to struggle to make ends meet. Oh, and don't forget the suggested donation from those that want to volunteer. Who doesn't cave when there's a suggested donation inferred? And where else are you asked to do that when you volunteer? Isn't training the volunteers in her job description and part of her salary? We have supported the Humane Society through donations, and attended the September fundraising event for many years. We went again this year after much debate because we realized that it's about the animals, but this will make us seriously reconsider. If contributions have increased, then I guess it won't matter anyway.

gatekeeper 6 years, 5 months ago

Do as I do and take them supplies, but never money. Maybe they'll start to see that the community is pissed. I'm not giving them money they can pass on to the new director (who has a TERRIBLE reputation and had to come to KS just to get a job).

MYOB 6 years, 5 months ago

Good idea in theory, but unfortunately any supplies you donate for the animals means less the HS has to pay for and in turn can use the money saved towards her ridiculous salary. I think I'll find another HS to support.

sandrat7 6 years, 5 months ago

Please also consider the Jefferson County Humane Society

pinecreek 6 years, 5 months ago

'animal numbers at the shelter previously had been high, in part, because the shelter frequently served as a staging area when state officials had seized animals from illegal kennels and other such cases. Villalon said the shelter is participating less frequently in those types of boardings. ' It is supposed to be about the animals--looks like that focus is changing for this shelter. We have been generous donors for 25 years--judging by their comments, director salary and recent purchases, they must be doing ok and we can move on to help other animal charities. At least they're honest enough to admit as much. Best of luck in the future LHS.

ilovelucy 6 years, 5 months ago

I've met the new ED and she seems to be a real sweetheart. And I believe that it's time to raise her salary. However, I can't help but feel that this is another slap in the face to someone who gave her life to the Humane Society for a number of years.

kseagle 6 years, 5 months ago

wow....a glorified pooper scooper can make $70K per year?? maybe I am in the wrong business.

gatekeeper 6 years, 5 months ago

They're now sending out mass mailings, full color that cost a fortune, trying to get contributions. I wonder how many animals could have been saved from euthanization with the $20K pay raise and extra money they're now spending on the mailings. Full color, spam mailings cost thousands more than sending a letter on basic paper to existing donors.

funkdog1 6 years, 5 months ago

I've adoped a dog and a cat from the Lawrence shelter, both of which were very healthy. I've never noticed animals there to be dirty or uncared for. We usually give to the shelter at Christmas time ... I just hope that the money we designate for spaying and neutering and medicine is actually spent for those things and not on the increase of this new director's salary. Something seems fishy here.

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

Wait, didn't we just hear yesterday that government workers were underpaid and that's why they needed the big pensions for retention?

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