Like many other organizations that rely on donations and fundraisers, Annie’s Orphans, a local no-kill dog shelter, rescue and sanctuary, has experienced a significant drop in funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annie Anderson, who runs the shelter, said the organization relies on summer and winter fundraisers for a large portion of its budget. The summer fundraiser is usually a dinner that features a live and silent auction.
“It’s our main fundraiser that keeps the doors open,” Anderson said.
The winter fundraiser is centered around “giving trees” in local businesses. Anderson said both fundraisers were canceled this year because of in-person COVID-19 transmission risk. Anderson estimated the shelter will lose $40,000 to $50,000 because of the canceled fundraisers.
Annie’s Orphans has been in operation for 34 years, and Anderson estimated nearly 3,000 dogs have come through her shelter. The dogs come from a variety of places: owners who can no longer keep them, stray dogs and dogs that would otherwise be euthanized by shelters.
Anderson said about half of the 65 dogs that live in the sanctuary will likely never be adopted because of behavioral issues.
A quarter are special-needs dogs and the remaining are adoptable.
Chris Nelson, director of Animal Services at the La Plata County Humane Society, said Annie’s Orphans houses many dogs that need long-term care and are not easily adoptable. Nelson said nonprofits are struggling across the board. The Humane Society Thrift Store, which helps fund the Humane Society, has lost about $300,000 in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic because of closures and capacity restrictions.
Joan Thielen, spokesman for the Dumb Friends League, the largest nonprofit community-based animal shelter in the Rocky Mountain Region, said the league receives a large amount of its funding through in-person events, so the pandemic has presented challenges in that regard.
However, Thielen said the league transitioned many of its events to a virtual format and has been overwhelmed by the support from the community. Overall, the league, a Front Range-based organization, is not experiencing the same kind of losses as the local shelters.
Anderson said her team of volunteers has been busy trying to make up the lost money through fundraisers on Facebook and GoFundMe. The team is also working on creating an online auction to replace the canceled summer event.
“We do have to think positive. My shelter isn’t only a shelter, it’s also a sanctuary for dogs who can’t be adopted,” Anderson said. “We have to fight as hard as we can. I have confidence in my volunteers. We’ll make it one way or another, but right now, it’s going to be very hard to pay our biggest expense in the winter: our electric bill.”
The electric and gas bill nearly quadruple in the winter, Anderson said, because each dog house is heated.
“People don’t realize what it’s like to keep 65 dogs alive and well,” Anderson said. “We’re all so unsure about where this is going to go.”
The money that Anderson and her team raises is put primarily toward veterinarian bills, dog food and utility expenses.
Despite the struggles, Anderson has faith her shelter will continue to stay open with the help of the community.
“This community is very compassionate and helpful,” she said.