Some Guilford County animal lovers feel like the county’s plan to spend down Susie’s Fund, phase it out and start a broader fund to help the animals at the Guilford County Animal Shelter in more ways, isn’t a good plan – and they’ve been letting the county know it on Facebook, comments and in emails.
Susie’s Fund, which is named after a dog that was severely beaten and burned in 2009 in Greensboro, was established to help abused and injured animals in the care of the Guilford County Animal Shelter.
Susie eventually recovered and, eight years ago, the state of North Carolina passed Susie’s Law, which enacted tougher penalties for animal abusers. The story brought lots of attention – and money – to the fund.
County officials want citizens to know that the coming change in funding methods will not in any way prevent animals from getting the care they need, that the name “Susie’s Fund” will remain on the current fund until all the money in it is expended and that all funds that have been donated to Susie’s Fund will be used for their intended purpose.
In an email to one woman who complained to Guilford County about the change, Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne wrote: “I believe there has been a serious miscommunication regarding this matter. First, there is no intention on the part of the county to change the name of Susie’s Fund. I can state unequivocally that as long as there is money in the fund it will continue to be used for the exact purpose and with the same name it has always had.”
Payne stated that the county’s decision was motivated by the fact that the funds in Susie’s Fund are being spent much faster than additional funds are coming in. He said that, therefore, Guilford County needs to anticipate what to do when the funds are gone – not because anyone ‘got rid of” Susie’s Fund but because all the money will have been spent.
One reason that the fund is not being replenished is that the county is not publicizing Suzie’s Fund or seeking donations as it once was – which is one reason the fund grew to roughly a quarter of a million dollars. The county has been spending that money to help animals and now there’s just over $100,000 left in Susie’s Fund.
At a meeting of the Guilford County Animal Services Board earlier this month, some speakers said the shelter needed to better use Facebook and other social media to help adopt out the animals and get donations. Years ago, just about every time Susie’s Fund was used to help an animal recover, the heartwarming success stories, along with pictures, were posted on social media and that consistently brought in funds. Since the county took over the fund several years ago, however, it has not publicized the fund.
Payne wrote in his email this week that the county in the future, with a newly established fund, will be able to help the animals at the shelter’s care in even more ways than it now can with Susie’s Fund.
“Susie’s Fund can only be used for emergency vet bills for abused animals,” Payne wrote. “However, our citizens are concerned about all the needs of our shelter animals and many want to donate funds for other needs such as food or veterinary care for animals that were not abused but still have needs, for example, abandoned or homeless animals. The county is planning on the possibility of creating a new fund to handle these broader needs. If such Fund is created, it would be in addition to, not in place of, Susie’s Fund as long as Susie’s Fund still had funds.”