LONGMONT — The Longmont Humane Society is taking care of the animals in its care while looking out for its employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it comes with a financial hit to the organization.
Just a couple of days before Gov. Jared Polis urged the cancellation of events with 250 people or more on March 13, the animal-protection organization voluntarily called off its annual Homeward Bound fundraising event. The fundraiser was scheduled for Saturday at the Boulder County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, and its cancellation means the organization could be losing up to $145,000 in fundraising.
Liz Smokowski, CEO of the Longmont Humane Society, said that “it just did not seem like a prudent thing to continue to hold it.”
The organization also closed its doors to the public Wednesday. Those closures include its thrift store and clinic.
Smokowski said the organization is making changes to its spending to manage the loss. For example, it typically makes additional monthly payments to its mortgage but suspended those extra installments temporarily to go into a reserve fund and pay its staff while revenue is down.
The organization has 49 essential staff who are still working, which includes some Animal Care Team handlers, and representatives from the training and health-care teams. The animal handlers are split up into two shifts, with some working Monday through Wednesday, and the others Thursday through Saturday.
Smokowski said that this will create two isolated groups. If a member on one of those teams falls ill, then those workers will be traded out for non-essential workers.
The 34 non-essential workers include administration and thrift-store employees. Non-essential workers who cannot work remotely are asked to stay home and use their paid time off. Longmont Humane Society offered information to non-essential employees in case their PTO reaches its limit. They then would be laid off, with the intention that they return when possible.
“We’re trying to stay in touch and make sure that they are healthy physically and emotionally with wherever they are at. I know in their hearts they’re wanting to be back helping. Many of them have expressed that,” Smokowski said. “But again, first and foremost, I have to keep them healthy and safe in order for them to keep the animals healthy and safe in the long run.”
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