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Motion to disband Humane Society boosters causes stir among volunteers, board members

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

MOHAWK, N.Y. (WKTV) - Volunteers who have donated time to raise money for the Herkimer County Humane Society are now concerned that the animals at the shelter will suffer after the shelter's Executive Committee voted to dissolve their Booster Club as it now operates and form a new volunteer group under their own guidelines.

The committee sent an email out to Booster Club members Wednesday night citing communication and money management violations with events, specifically their Cabin Fever Party.

"The Executive Committee of the Herkimer County Humane Society met on April 9, 2012 and voted unanimously to disband the Herkimer County Booster Club as it now operates to include all persons who are interested in volunteering due to the following reasons:"

The email then goes on to state that the Humane Society's Executive Committee says the Cabin Fever Party's money was turned over too late and through a personal account, that they weren't informed on the money raised soon enough, and that there was no expense report completed. They also cited that they weren't notified of the magnitude of the Cabin Fever Party and that the proper paperwork was not completed.

"The items that are stated on here are really just beyond words, that, for one of the things we are being disbanded for is we actually made the cabin fever party bigger and better," says Booster Club Member Alesia Forlenza. "This is the third year of it and this year we were able to raise $8,000 and last year it was only $1,700 and we are in trouble for doing that?"

The decision also left some Herkimer County Humane Society Board Members upset.

"The girls are willing to work. They're willing to bust their butt and certain rules and regulations, you've got to have them, but I think the girls were going along with them pretty well," says Ron Crewell who has since resigned from the board after the vote to disband the boosters.

Crewell now worries about how the animal shelter will survive without the Booster Club's efforts.

"Their money situation down there right now is limited. By the time they do their payroll and insurance and everything else, they're going through a fortune each month," Crewell said. "If they don't have the revenue coming in, I give them six months. They would have to close the doors or do something."

Booster Club members say they have already raised $10,000 this year, and that they're not ready to end their hard work.

"The animals, they need us. They have no voice and they need us," says Forlenza. "And we want to be there for them, but they are not allowing us to do this anymore."

The Herkimer County Humane Society held a public hearing on the issue Thursday night. After reading the email they sent to Booster Club members with their reasons for disbanding them, members of the community could voice their opinions.

The Humane Society's Executive Committee, made up of five members, stated that a new volunteer effort will form under their own guidelines.

NEWSChannel 2 reached out to the current board of directors via the shelter multiple times throughout the day Thursday to weigh in on the story, but were told they were not available for comment.

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