New Mexican rebuttal

Sept. 24, 2018

Hello Friends, Volunteers, and Supporters-

Some of you may have seen the articles in the New Mexican newspaper yesterday & today about the Shelter.  I want you to know that we fully cooperated with the reporter, including providing in depth financial information, historical information, and answers to all of his questions.  There is nothing to hide, and we have been completely transparent.  Unfortunately, the reporter chose to include certain details and not others to draw out an overly sensationalized write-up.

We are a strong organization that has been around for 79 years.  We aren’t going anywhere!  We are recognized as a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator (the highest rating) and receive the Gold Star Seal of Transparency by Guidestar, 2 organizations that evaluate the health of non-profits.  You all know what good work we do every day, and our community is very supportive of us.  This attack is completely unmerited.

The three transactions mentioned all took place 2-6 years ago, have already been investigated, and were found to amount to nothing significant.  Here is a brief background on each:

  • In 2012, a piece of land was traded to Roddey Burdine in exchange for money we owed him on a loan he made to the shelter to help cover expenses during a tough time.  A professional market analysis of the land was done at the time, accepted by our auditors as an acceptable method of valuation, and the lot transfer was legally completed with Board approval.  Because of the concern of 2 former Board members, we recently went back and had 2 appraisals of the lot done.  One came out at $325,000 and the other at $375,000.  Because the original market analysis valued the lot at $300,000 and that was the value used for the transfer, there appears to be a small discrepancy.  We are in the process of resolving this matter as advised by our attorney and with complete cooperation of Mr. Burdine.
  • Trey Jordan, an architect, was a Board member when we received the offer from the Thaw Charitable Trust to pay to build us a new animal hospital.  Trey offered to design the building, waiving all principal architect fees for his own work and a discounted rate for the rest of his team’s work.  4 people worked on the project over several years, and then again when his team designed the Rehab Center.  Estimates from 2 other architectural firms show that we saved close to $200,000 by using Trey’s firm over outside firms.
  • Mary Martin, the former Executive Director, lived in a house owned by the Shelter as part of her compensation package.  The fair market value of what would have been her rent was reported as non-cash compensation of her W-2’s and in our financials.  When I took the position, there was no need to keep the house and it was sold.  Unfortunately, there was a fair bit of deferred maintenance that brought down the value of the house.  It needed $30,000 in stucco repair alone.  The appraised value at the time ended up being $510,000, far below what the Shelter had originally purchased the house for.  Mary offered to buy the house “as is”, saving the Shelter real estate fees and the expense of fixing all the maintenance issues, which resulted in the best financial outcome for the Shelter.

As for the finances, the article got some of it right, but the reporter chose which numbers he felt like reporting.  For example, he said that donations had been declining between 2013 and 2015, but failed to mention that it only appeared that way because 2012 was when we received the cash to build the hospital.  When you take out the capital donations that were made specifically for building the hospital and Rehab Center, donations have been steadily increasing over time.  It’s true, though, that we spent more than we brought in for several years while building and staffing the 2 new buildings.  We have worked hard over the last 2 years to bring expenses down, and we feel we are now on a sustainable path.  It is an expensive operation to run, and I thank all of you for your contributions, volunteer hours, and support.

The part that is particularly frustrating to me about the coverage is that it comes at a time when the Shelter is seeing so much success.  The articles are all about people who are no longer affiliated with the Shelter and dealings from years ago.  Currently, we have a very engaged and proactive Board, dedicated and passionate staff, all of you, the best financial picture we’ve seen in years, and no-kill status for our entire community.  It is disheartening that someone chose to focus on the past when our present and future is what is so compelling.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Email is typically the easiest way to make contact: jsteketee@sfhumanesociety.org.

Thank you for all that you do to help this great organization and the wonderful animals we serve.

Sincerely,

-Dr. Jennifer Steketee

Jennifer Steketee, DVM
Executive Director