Whatever it takes: Community support is essential

Mabel Lujan, photo courtesy of Asheville Humane Society

Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina. 

Mabel Lujan is the communications manager at Asheville Humane Society. The nonprofit is dedicated to promoting the compassionate treatment of animals in WNC through education, sheltering and adoption.

Xpress: How have rising costs impacted people’s ability to care for their animals?

Lujan: Throughout the past three years, pandemic-related disruptions and economic hardships and uncertainties have made caring for pets more expensive. Throughout the pandemic, pet owners struggled to gain access to essential veterinary care such as vaccines, preventative care and spay/neuter appointments. One of the main factors for owner surrenders is concern over the price of medical care and pet food. Our community solutions department is hard at work providing vet vouchers, behavior assistance and pet supplies to ensure that folks do not have to surrender their beloved furry family member over financial concerns.

What resources are crucial for your organization’s ongoing success?

Asheville Humane Society relies heavily on community support. From donations to fostering to suggesting us as a spot to grow your family, our caring community members provide the backbone to allow us to care for as many animals as we can.

How crucial are volunteers to your organization?

Volunteers are everything. Every department in our organization utilizes volunteers. Some of the essential duties that volunteers perform are handling dogs during play group, washing dishes and laundry, tabling at events, administrative organization, building enrichment toys, providing essential enrichment activities, fostering animals — you name it. We are always thrilled when a volunteer offers a specific skill that is useful to our organization. Any handy people out there?

What fact about your organization might surprise readers?

We recently launched a brand-new center, the Community Sheltering Center, which focuses on matching clients with essential resources in real time, increasing the number of animals we are able to reunify with their families and encouraging the community to care for lost animals to create more space in the shelter for the most vulnerable animals in our community. This center is groundbreaking in the animal welfare world and will drastically expand the services we are able to offer to our community. We are thrilled.


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