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.