DANVILLE — More than half of the board of directors of the Humane Society of Danville plan to resign effective next month, and Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is already searching for community members willing to take a seat on the nonprofit organization's board.
Board President Gary R. Dodd said there are currently six board members and four have resigned, effective July 13, including himself. Dodd said he's been a member for at least 10 years, and the other three who are resigning have been members much longer than he has. He said the biggest issue for him is the time commitment. Dodd recently became the board's president after the death of its longtime president, Pete Lary. Dodd said he just doesn't have time to do it, adding that it's a full-time volunteer job and Lary left behind some very big shoes to fill. He said two other resigning board members have health issues in their families, and the fourth is Joanne Adams, the former director of the humane society, who recently retired from that post. Dodd said Adams has put in more than 30 years, and she's ready to retire as a board member, too.
Dodd said the two board members who are left, Jim Crose and Glen Michaelson, are new to the board.
The nonprofit humane society runs a shelter for animals on Collett Street in Danville, and has had a contract for many years with the city of Danville to do the city's animal control. Last year, the city did not renew that contract, and some residents criticized the humane society's operation and called for the city to end its relationship with the organization. The humane society has continued to serve the city under the terms of the previous contract while the city has investigated alternatives, including merging with Vermilion County's animal control and shelter operation. But one plan presented to council members would have required a much larger financial commitment from the city than it's had.
Eisenhauer has been calling for changes at the humane society, which recently hired a new director. He has asked if the city could appoint some of the board members. Now, Eisenhauer is getting that opportunity. He said Tuesday night that he has put out a call to anyone interested in serving on the board. He's asking anyone interested to give him a letter of interest and a resume.
"I'm looking for people who have a passion and compassion for animals and animal welfare, and people who have a strong sense of business and business planning, recognizing that there is a financial obligation that needs to be met," he said. He added that he needs people with new ideas for improving the way in which the city provides animal-welfare services and people with a strong fundraising background who can aid in the long-term financial viablity of the organization.
Eisenhauer said he needs people with the energy and commitment to accomplish what he sees are necessary long-term goals — planning for a new, more efficient animal shelter facility; a more aggressive approach to animal adoption to decrease the euthanasia rate; and a stronger educational component to animal welfare.
He said because the current members' resignations are effective in July, he would like to have the names of appointees and a proposed new contract between the city and the humane society ready for the city council's public-services committee meeting that same month.
Dodd said he wishes everyone well in this transition. He said he sincerely hopes a new contract that's conducive to everyone can be achieved and new board members can be found.
"It's just time for change. It's time for new blood, and time for others to be involved and to actually realize what's involved in running the humane society," said Dodd, who added that people think it's easy, but the organization is bound by laws and regulations on the state and federal level and by its agreement with the city, plus it's a continual fundraising challenge. "I hope it all comes out well, and I mean that sincerely."