The Katharine M. Foote memorial animal shelter in Edgartown, which is owned by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will be closed, the Gazette learned late yesterday. Saying that the organization’s finances had taken a hard hit from the recession and the falling stock market, MSPCA president Carter Luke announced that the society would close three of its shelters, including the one on the Vineyard. The Island shelter is due to close May 1, according to a report on The Boston Globe Web site last night.

The Vineyard MSPCA has a long history; the animal shelter was founded by the late Katharine M. Foote and bears her name today. A devout animal lover and dauntless defender of animal rights, Ms. Foote founded the shelter in 1933 using $10,000 of her own money. Ms. Foote first visited the Island in the late 1800s and famously vowed to return one day to address what she perceived as a problem with cruelty to animals.

“She kept her word,” the Gazette wrote when Ms. Foote died in 1955. “When she stepped off the gangplank of the steamer more than 30 years ago, a friend rushed up to her with news of a family of starving cats. At first she felt like turning around . . . But instead she went to the rescue of the luckless cats and from that time forth never faltered in her determination to establish a home and hospital for animals on the Vineyard.”

In 1947 the shelter was taken over by the MSPCA, at the request of the Martha’s Vineyard Animal Rescue League. Ms. Foote gave the society her house and land.

Various reports have circulated in recent weeks that the shelter was in danger of being closed, but none had been confirmed.

Shelter director Ron Whitney could not be reached for comment last night.

But in the Globe story Mr. Luke said the MSPCA lost more than $11 million on its endowment in 2008.

Also slated to close are an MSPCA shelter in Springfield and one in Brockton.