published Friday, September 2nd, 2011

McKamey Animal Center goes into red

McKamey Animal Center is located on Access Road in Hixson.
McKamey Animal Center is located on Access Road in Hixson.
Photo by Dan Henry.
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MCKAMEY BUDGET


• Income

Actual—Budget

$2,129,434.53—$1,966,822

• Expense

Actual—Budget

$2,158,223.36—$1,969,981

Source: McKamey

The McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center’s bottom line turned red in 2011, driven by legal costs over its raid of the Pet Company store and a 30 percent increase in the number of animals it accepted.

Though the center’s revenue was above budgeted levels, there were unexpected expenses as well, McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh told members of the Chattanooga City Council’s Safety Committee this week in her annual report. The city has a contract with McKamey for animal control services.

The center outspent its almost $2.13 million budget by $28,788, according to its records. Legal fees were almost $62,000, more than three times what was budgeted. Supplies, repairs and a variety of expenses went over budget as well during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

In an explanation attached to the financial statement, McKamey officials said the legal fees were spent on the Pet Company case.

In June 2010, McKamey and state and local officials removed 82 animals from the Pet Company at Hamilton Place, alleging poor treatment and living conditions. McKamey lost its animal cruelty case against the Pet Company when a judge threw it out. Pet Company has filed a federal lawsuit against McKamey.

In an interview Thursday, Walsh said she could not talk about the Pet Company expenses because the case is still in litigation.

  • photo
    While testifying in a Chattanooga City Court trial, Karen Walsh, executive director of McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, shows photos that she took inside of The Pet Company at Hamilton Place. File photo.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

She said the 30 percent increase in the number of animals brought to the center is something its workers can’t predict or control. The center based its budget on the 6,009 animals brought in during 2009-10, she said, but 8,565 animals were brought in.

“When you increase your animal numbers by that much, it’s going to increase your supplies and such as well. You need to offset that by creating other revenue streams,” she said, such as fundraisers and donations.

She blamed the slumping economy for forcing people to give up their pets.

“People are losing their homes, people are losing their jobs, not so much in Chattanooga as in other parts of the country, but it has an impact,” Walsh said.

McKamey’s overall revenues were up 8.3 percent, mostly from contributions and license fees, though adoption fees, at $74,000, were nearly 58 percent below budget.

In the explanation to the committee, McKamey officials said the center decided to cut adoption fees in hopes of finding homes for more animals.

“We actually save money by [adopting] out the animals as quickly as possible even though we lose money on every adoption. It is not our mission to utilize the animals as a revenue source,” the statement said.

City Councilman Peter Murphy, the chairman of the Safety Committee, said Thursday he didn’t see the almost $29,000 loss as worrisome.

“I think in the scheme of their budget, that loss isn’t anything to be too distressed about,” Murphy said. “That’s the nature of the beast — it’s going to be variable in terms of their service and revenues.”

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about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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Onceuponatime said...

Killing the animals is not the answer. There is no such thing as "excess" animals. The poor babies do not have a choice of where they end up. The Pet Company is a terrible company. My fiancee and I adopted a dog from the Pet Company and later found out the puppy was horribly sick. The manager lied to us about our contract and told us terrible things such as if we decided to kick the dog out the window or stomp on it's head then he would give us another puppy for free. We couldn't believe it. We ended up having to give the puppy away because we couldn't take care of him like he needed. The Pet Company tried to sue us for breach of contract but we won the case and never had to pay a dime. I think McKamey's is doing a wonderful job and if it cost them $62,000.00 in legal fees to fight the Pet Company go for it. The Pet Company needs to be shut down. I was disappointed when McKamey lost their case.

September 2, 2011 at 8:17 a.m.
chatttn said...

Totally agree with Onceuponatime. Animals don't have a choice where they end up. But they do have unconditional love for someone, given the chance.

September 2, 2011 at 8:31 a.m.
Petdboi1 said...

I have been around pets all my life, from being raised on a farm, grooming pets, working in a pet store, and at HES and McKamey. I can truly say that Karen Walsh is the ONLY executive up to her elbows in animal waste and actually caring for the pets.....The public may see her all prettied up with make-up etc. But she is the ONLY person I have ever met that is in the pet care industry that puts the animal before EVERYTHING else....When I worked at McKamey she was there Christmas Eve with blue jeans,t-shirt, and boots running emergency calls and cleaning and medicating the animals. Bet you will not see anyone else in this area do that!!! Ms. Walsh is a Beautiful Woman inside and out......

September 2, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.
Carl said...

They are providing a much needed service and doing a wonderful job. What they need now is our support not criticism.

September 2, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.
holdout said...

So many stray animals here, so many starving people in Somalia. Can't we solve each others problems?

September 2, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
McRand said...

Yeah, everybody needs a dog, until they find out that that cute littly puppy grows up and is a continual anchor to your time. And, the push for laws so that it is considered "animal abuse" to have a dog tethered in your yard is crazy. Watch dogs have been around since forever. Now they push for you to have a fenced in yard. What's next, heating and air conditioning? The people that refer to them as "babies" need to snap out of it. They're animals, not people. What a crazy society we're turning into; love the "downtrodden animals', ignore the downtrodden people. Then we get PETA to practice taking off their clothes in order to protest meat consumption. And to present themselves as an adoption agency for abandoned animals, when they really are the animal police,another "big brother" operation, and cleverly tied into the municipal budget rather than their own non-profit existence. This thing is going to cost far more than the old simple dog pound. Another, self serving organization tied into the ever expanding bureaucracy.

September 2, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
McRand said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. It sees like there's a greater effort to save the animals while we turn our minds away from the massive genocidal aborting of the innocent children. We are living in a very confused age.

September 2, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.
Onceuponatime said...

McRand, loving our pets and considering them our babies is not confused. Have you ever had a pet that you actually spent time and attention on? My cats adapted to my sleep scheduled,they love to sleep under the covers in between by fiancee and I wait by the door for me to go home and when I am not feeling good they stay by my side and don't leave. They show true love and affection. I love my cats as I would a child. The simple dog pound needlessly kills thousands of animals a year. Animals that have no choice where they end up. They can't help if someone just throws them away like garbage.

Now while I am not pro-abortion I am pro-life that is a different discussion. You would be surprise, McRand, how many people who are out there trying to fight for animal cruelty rights are also working for human rights as well. I'm sorry if you feel a dog pound is good enough when it is not. A dog pound = death for most of the animals and as someone who loves their cats as babies that will not be acceptable.

September 2, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
olistephe said...

how about the thousands spent on every single unemployment case that they ultimately lost?! If McKamey followed their own policies they wouldn't have lost the cases. Not following the budget and not following policies are the problems with McKamey. Which can all be traced back to one employee at McKamey! Paula Hurn. Karen Walsh is good at what she does however, not paying attention to her director of operations is going to be her downfall.

September 2, 2011 at 1:22 p.m.
Petdboi1 said...

Pets are proven to be both mentally and physically helpful to the idiotic human race.....They help the blind be able to go outside and function in everyday life chores as a functionable citizen.....and who found the most bodies in the 911 bombings....Who can detect explosives and illegal drugs w to keep us safe in this very sickening world ..... We as humans opted to domesticate these animals so it is our responsibility to give to them some of what they deserve.....as for McKamey ...Karen Walsh IS the best.....Ms. Hurn may be in it for other reasons but maybe that is why she is not the director????? Go figure wish some peeps would take a peek at the director of our "other" animal control facility in Hamilton county....I'm sure heads would turn....All we can do as animal lovers is pray that people wake up and try and help Ms. Walsh in her Love for the helpless animals and educate the idiots of our community...

September 2, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.
Soos54 said...

@McRand - treating animals humanely and treating humans humanely are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, I'd counter that those who are able to truly consider and love animals are in turn able to truly consider and love people even more. There is a strong connection between having the capacity to empathize with animals and in turn, being loving, generous, and empathetic to humans (the inverse is also true - many serial killers get their first thrills torturing animals). So the argument that people who care for animals do it at the exclusion of caring for human beings is a tired and silly statement. The bottom line here is that we have more abandoned and homeless pets than we have people willing to adopt them. We should all be focused on spay and neuter programs and education - which will be the only thing that will actually help diminish the underlying problem. P.S. What does abortion have to do with this? Sigh....

September 2, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

How much did outsourcing animal policing to McKamey save us now?

Their actual income, outlined above, exceeded their budget expenses by $159,453. And they're still $28K in the hole?

Once again, local leaders failed to raise the money for basic contingencies in government. What's more, it looks like they might have had a surplus if they had their act together. Piece of advice: plan ahead next time.

When running an outsourcing, for-profit company under government contract for animal policing, you may want to have a surplus in the bank for the lawsuits and other basic overhead a reasonable individual could predict as operating costs for such a venture.

They're in the red because they did not plan ahead and get the money for the lawsuits. They didn't budget. They didn't implement a reasonable logistic support plan for the lawsuit.

They are an outsourcing company responsible for the jailing, housing and killing of unwanted animals in the county area. That profession is going to bring them into direct legal conflicts with many people. Only an idiot would fail to allocate a generous budget for litigation when trying to profit or sustain such a contract for services.

They went outside of the scope of their budget-supported authority and got their budget handed back to them after losing because they did not plan ahead to sustain themselves through a conflict.

Their actual income exceeded their budget for expenses. Yet, they went into debt.

Yelling at people about saving animals doesn't cut it when you are in charge of over $2,000,000 in county tax dollars. We cannot have a privately owned company going off budget and racking up huge bills and then expecting us to bail them out. The scope of their contract does not include our paying for their privately hired lawyers.

We don't have a bonus clause for failure.

They get the contract to do the duty. We give them some money. It's up to them to work it out. They failed. Life's tough all over.

McKamey needs to get it together and start carrying out their contract or get out of the public service outsourcing business. They screwed this up on their own. They need to cover their bills.

Why should we think twice about doing anything other than castigating someone who spent over $2,000,000 on for-profit outsourced government services, and then turned around and suggested that they needed $29,000 more?

They got $159,453 more to play with than their budget called for. If they went $28K in the hole, they can hold a bake sale or a pooch beauty pageant to raise the difference.

Another management and leadership failure in government from cronies. Get it together.

September 2, 2011 at 10:12 p.m.
olistephe said...

@328kwebsite it's city taxes. HCES handles county. Mckamey is only in charge within the city limits and only receives government funding from city related taxes.

September 3, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
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