A New Beginning

After sixty-two years of ownership by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Katharine M. Foote Memorial Shelter in Edgartown quietly changes hands today. And so begins a new era of public-private ownership at the Island’s only animal shelter. A nonprofit organization has been formed, a board of directors has been appointed, and for now Dukes County will oversee the administrative duties of the shelter and help with funding for operations. In a couple of weeks a grand opening will be held.

Meanwhile, it is quiet at the shelter these days; no dogs or cats are in residence waiting for adoption. But that will give the new stewards a little time to take the reins, and to clean and repaint and spruce things up a bit.

When the MSPCA announced two months ago that it would close the shelter, Islanders reacted with understandable alarm, and then got to work. Now the work has paid off and the shelter will remain open. The County has signed a lease with the MSPCA for the building, which sits on property bequeathed by Katharine Foote for the sole purpose of being used as an animal shelter.

There is still more work to do in the weeks and months ahead, including fund-raising work. Voters in Island towns will be asked to help foot the bill for operating the shelter in the coming year, but that is a short-term fix. In the longer term a solid business plan is needed to keep the shelter open and operating without relying on taxpayer money.

That will be a task for the county and the new board of directors to tackle straight away.

And soon the shelter will again be a thriving, healthy temporary home for stray dogs and cats, and the odd pet rabbit or two, waiting for adoption.