Stray Hearts Animal Shelter to open thrift store, ReTails

Posted 11/21/19

Unlike many other nonprofits, we aren't able to rely on large endowments or grants when our community fundraising isn't enough to pay the bills. Incredibly, only one-third of our revenue comes from our contracts with the town and county and, unfortunately, the amounts we receive have not increased in years.

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Stray Hearts Animal Shelter to open thrift store, ReTails

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Unlike many other nonprofits, we aren't able to rely on large endowments or grants when our community fundraising isn't enough to pay the bills. Incredibly, only one-third of our revenue comes from our contracts with the town and county and, unfortunately, the amounts we receive have not increased in years.

Our Taos County contract hasn't increased since 2013 and our town of Taos contract hasn't changed since 2016. So, instead, without a steady stream of income, we're forced to rely on the generosity of our community to provide two-thirds of our operating costs.

With inflation and a 16 percent increase in the number of animals we've accepted over last year, you can see our dilemma and why it seems like we're always asking for donations. Adding to this already dire situation are the scheduled increases in the minimum wage. We need an ongoing revenue stream. So, in an effort to become more self-sufficient, we've created ReTails.

ReTails is located at 1204 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Suite D, next to Taos Clay and just half a block north of Orlando's in El Prado Plaza, where Taos Tin Works used to be. We would love to see as many of you as possible at our grand opening, Saturday (Dec. 7) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

One focus of ReTails will be the resale of high-quality furniture, office furniture, art, jewelry, and home decor. We'll also have some donated pet supplies for sale. In addition to the resale store, we are also excited to provide Taos County's first ever Cat Café!

If you or someone you know loves to hang out with cats, what could be better than relaxing or working with a cat in your lap or watching them play? We'll provide beverages, snacks, and high-speed internet while the cats will provide the love and entertainment. Naturally, all of the cats will be also be available for adoption. Admission to the Cat Café is $5, which helps cover the cost of caring for the cats.

Our future plans also include a Barkery, which will sell homemade, nutritious and tasty dog and cat treats just because you love your furry family. We also plan to host special events like cat yoga and dog birthday parties. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website, strayheartsretails.org.

Stray Hearts Animal Shelter is classified as a no-kill shelter with a live release rate in 2018 of 94 percent. We have had our struggles throughout the years but over the past two years we have made significant progress in a number of areas, including systemic changes to stabilize the operation of the shelter.

1. We have gone through every line item in our budget to reduce costs while improving our animal care protocols.

2. Our job descriptions, policies and procedures have all been updated and documented so that in addition to meeting state and federal standards, we can also maintain continuity as we experience staff changes.

3. We have invested in facility improvements that have reduced our utility costs and maintenance expenses as well as improving the quality of life for the animals in our care.

4. We have an addition to the main building for a surgery recovery room and meet and greet room in the works.

5. We have been able to negotiate a contract with Taos Pueblo to work with them on the pet overpopulation problem. Grants obtained by the shelter and money from the Pueblo will cover quarterly spay/neuter van visits.

6. All of our documentation and website have been translated into Spanish to increase our outreach into the Hispanic community in Taos County.

7. We established relationships with HEART of Taos, CAV, DreamTree and the Taos Men's Shelter to provide support for the companion animals of their clients during emergencies.

8. We run a pet food bank for people with limited means. Our pet food bank supplies food for an average of 135 animals per month.

9. We now have part-time veterinarian, which saves a significant amount of money over using outside veterinary care.

9. Additional staff training has allowed us to have dog play groups.

10. Our volunteer base has increased substantially with more dog walkers, cat cuddlers, landscapers and event planners.

Most of these efforts have been funded by grants, donations and volunteer efforts.

Stray Hearts Animal Shelter is a key part of what makes Taos a great community. Having a well-run animal shelter not only helps the animals but we contribute to the health and safety of our citizens and visitors by housing, vaccinating and neutering loose animals.

The board of Stray Hearts Animal Shelter is: Donna Karr, Jay Prunty, Barbara Ann Downs-vanCalsem, Sarah Parr, Sherri Perry and Cynthis Lucas.

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