New Head of CAHS Makes Strides Despite Tough Economy

Eburne’s decision to change the live auction to include a Special Care Fund, where pictures of injured or special needs animals were shown to donors, pulled at the heartstrings to the tune of an extra $20,000. Some pets were even adopted that night. But even though making strides, Eburne says more needs to be done to find “forever homes” for all who need them.

Q: What is your position like on a day-to-day basis?
A: Each day is completely different.  One may have lots of meetings or I’ll be out in the community speaking at an event or meeting with donors.  But one thing that doesn’t change is making the rounds to see all the animals at the shelter to make sure they’re well cared for.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A:  Working for such an important cause.  You have to have a deep love of animals.  They can’t speak for themselves.  Our staff spends time with the animals, taking them for walks and even sledding in the snow!  The best part of finding an animal which was abandoned or abused is being able to nurse it back to health to place it in a good home.

Q: How has the economy affected the CAHS?
A:  We’ve noticed a 35 percent increase in animals being surrendered this year as compared to last—people forced to leave their homes due to foreclosure, or a job change that makes them leave the state, or they simply can’t afford veterinary care anymore.

Q:  How is the CAHS funded?
A:  The majority of the funds come from donations from the general public, either through direct mail campaigns or local events. Our biggest fundraiser is set for later this month.  The annual Walk for Animals, a 5K walk-run, is set for September 26 at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge.

Q:  How much money are you hoping to raise?
A:  Last year we raised $65,000. That was down a bit. Our major sponsors have stuck with us, but others were unable to donate. We’re hoping to recover this year.  A good year would be about $75,000. If you had asked me a few years ago, though, I would have had a different answer. Before, a good year would be $95,000 or more.  

Q: Who are your main sponsors?
A:  They include Soldan’s Feed and Pet Supplies and Mercantile Bank in Lansing.  The shelter also partners with Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, Walmart and Meijer.

Q:  What programs do you have to help families keep their animals?
A:  We receive food donations from the community, but since the animals at the CAHS are only fed Science Diet Pet Food, any other is donated back to needy families.  Some facing financial problems don’t have money to feed their pets anymore.  This help allows them to keep the animals in a good home by making their care more affordable.  We also hold at least four pet fairs a year where we go to community centers in low income areas to offer wellness checks, vaccinations and low-cost spaying, neutering and micro-chipping.

Q: How important is spaying and neutering?
A:  When you consider that one cat can produce thousands of kittens in seven years’ time, obviously, overpopulation is a problem.  We offer now to spay the mother cat for free if the family agrees to keep her, so we end up taking in only the kittens.  Animals not spayed or neutered also run a higher chance of running away or being killed or injured by cars or other wildlife.

Q:  We asked earlier about the most rewarding part of your job, but what is the most disappointing?
A:  There’s so much more that needs to be done to care for the animals.  We have a good facility, but it wasn’t built back in the late 1990s with sick animals in mind.  Space is very limited for those who need to be isolated.  Our sick dog ward has poor ventilation and no place for the dogs to go outside and get fresh air.

Q:  How can people help?
A:  The most fundamental way is through donations.  The majority of the money we collect goes directly to care of the animals.  We’re in the process now of collecting $15,000 to add dog runs for sick animals and we’re looking to collect an additional $20,000 to divide the cat room into smaller colonies that would create less stress on the animals. We could use more staff as well. We currently have only one full time veterinarian along with a part-timer and two licensed vet technicians.

Q:  Can people donate time?
A:   Volunteers are always needed to help out with various services and foster parents are always in demand. They take care of an animal in their home for a week or two until the animal is healthy again or old enough to be adopted. The shelter provides food, veterinary care and training to care for the animal.

Q:  What are your plans for the coming years?
A:  To offer a full, low-cost spay-neuter clinic for the entire Greater Lansing area and to have more room.  We never want to be in a position where we’re full and unable to take in any more animals.  We always want to be able to provide love and support to those who need it most.

Author: Jo Anne Paul-Stanton
Photography: Terri Shaver


Information Box:

Capital Area Humane Society

7095 W. Grand River Ave. Lansing


Samantha Eburne
President and CEO of the Capital Area Humane Society

Graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania with a BS degree in sociology
Experience includes executive director of the Monroe County Humane Society,  director of communications and marketing for the Michigan Humane Society, and director of membership for the Detroit Zoo

First generation American: her father was born and raised in England and her mother was born and raised in Scotland
Three pets: two cats (Minoo and Octaviia) and first-ever dog (Zoe) whom she adopted her first day on the job at the CAHS.

Travel, singing, swimming and scuba diving
Lansing Rotary Club Member
Hospice volunteer


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