Impacts from Brother Wolf’s moratorium on animal intakes expected to reach beyond Buncombe

Photo courtesy of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue

Brother Wolf Animal Rescue‘s unexpected moratorium on animal intakes has raised a number of questions among people in the Asheville animal rescue community. Brother Wolf president and founder Denise Bitz recently announced plans to close the Joyce B. Cambron Adoption Center in Asheville and open a pet and farm animal sanctuary in Leicester in its place.

The 12-month transition process to the sanctuary will entail a temporary moratorium on animal intakes as well as downsizing of adoption center staff, Bitz said in a June 23 announcement.

The number of Brother Wolf employees (currently 88) who will be laid off hinges on how soon the adoption center building sells, says Bitz, who plans to have the adoption center listed for sale early next week with Keller Williams Realty in Asheville. “The number [of layoffs] will fluctuate based on when the building closes and how many animals are left,” she explains. If there are still animals in the center when the building is sold, they will be moved to a transition facility that will require staffing, she adds.

The June 23 announcement noted that current employees will have “first dibs” at jobs at the sanctuary when it opens.

Jenna Yarosh, owner of Patton Avenue Pet Company, says she’s concerned how the moratorium will impact animal intakes from outside Buncombe County, which, according to Brother Wolf 2017 figures, comprise about 46 percent of the organization’s 5,000-plus annual animal intake.

“Brother Wolf Animal Rescue has been pulling dogs from shelters in nearby counties with far higher euthanasia rates than in Buncombe,” says Yarosh, who has been involved in animal welfare efforts, including with BWAR, for more than a decade. “With the moratorium in place at Brother Wolf, more dogs will inevitably be euthanized in these high-kill shelters, as there is one fewer release valve in place,” she says.

Bitz says the moratorium will not mean a total halt in animals intakes: “We’re stopping certain kinds of intake altogether. But if somebody turns up at our door with an injured animal, we won’t turn them away. If someone is trapping cats in our feral cat program and there is a litter of kittens, we’re not going to turn those babies away,” she says. But she adds that BWAR is less likely to accept dogs with challenging behavior that require a six-month rehabilitation, because there’s “a whole building full of challenging dogs,” referring to most of the 100 animals currently in the adoption center.

The Asheville Humane Society, which runs the Buncombe County Animal Shelter, will likely bear the impact of Brother Wolf’s moratorium on rescues — in particular the approximately 54 percent of Brother Wolf’s annual intakes which are from Buncombe County, according to 2017 figures provided by Brother Wolf.

Tracy Elliott, executive director of the Asheville Humane Society, says it’s unclear how the Brother Wolf moratorium will impact its organization, but notes, “We expect that surrender and stray intake may rise. We don’t think we will need to make any expansion of our facilities, unless there is a really major and sudden influx. And then there are options: If it were a really large [number of animals], we could call in some of the national organizations; they could come and set up temporary shelters like they do when there is a hoarding case or a weather emergency. We’ve already informed one of those organizations [the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] about what’s going on and that we might be calling on them, although we really don’t expect that.”

Mountain Xpress is continuing to investigate the changes taking place at Brother Wolf and the impacts they will have on the community. Reports will continue to be published in the coming weeks.




Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Nicki Glasser
Nicki is a freelance writer, healing facilitator for people and animals, animal communicator, songwriter, and currently at work on a memoir entitled Until I Rise Again.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

7 thoughts on “Impacts from Brother Wolf’s moratorium on animal intakes expected to reach beyond Buncombe

    • luther blissett

      The C-T’s report filled in a few blanks, but a key question remains: does BWAR need to sell its property and reduce payroll to have the working capital for the Leicester facility? The most recent Form 990 (for 2015) showed that a huge amount goes on payroll, which isn’t a bad thing, but there was about a million dollars more brought in that year than went out, so if there’s a squeeze on funds, it raises questions about whether the ambition could work against its long-term mission:

  1. Jan

    I can’t even begin to express my disappointment in how this is being handled by BWAR and the lack of hard probing questions by the media.

  2. Leslie Pardue

    Any updates on this story? I.e. progress on building BWAR’s sanctuary, impacts on AHS, numbers of BWAR layoffs, progress on selling the adoption center?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.