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Frequently Asked Questions about BAHS & DCHS Acquisition

Bay Area Humane Society (BAHS) and Door County Humane Society (DCHS) Acquisition Transactions with Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS)


Why are BAHS and DCHS becoming part of WHS?  

This combination brings new stability and strength to BAHS and DCHS.  WHS was approached separately by leadership at both organizations about a possible acquisition because both were looking for an ongoing framework that would reliably sustain their operations into the future.  

 Both boards unanimously voted to partner with WHS because of the financial stability, leadership and innovative programming that we can offer. This partnership ensures that vital services for animals will continue without interruption, and brings strength and sustainability to all the organizations.   


When will this happen? 

 We hope and expect to close the transactions as early as the end of 2017 if all goes smoothly. The boards of each organization have approved the contracts relating to the transactions.  To close the transactions, the following conditions must be met: satisfactory environmental assessment of the land, satisfactory title reports on any real estate, satisfactory agreements with any needed municipalities, and WHS satisfaction that restricted assets can be transferred. Those items could take several weeks or a few months. 


What changes will be made? 

In the first few months, we will focus on learning and understanding the strengths and opportunities ahead for each location and the whole organization. Both BAHS and DCHS are fully functional and WHS is excited to learn more about the staff, volunteers and communities, as well as the animal sheltering practices of each organization. We imagine that WHS staff will learn as much from BAHS and DCHS as they’ll learn from us, and we’ll develop new processes, and find new efficiencies, as we work more closely together. Most importantly, all three organizations will continue their commitment that no treatable and safe animal is ever euthanized, no matter how long that animal needs to find a home. 


How do animals and families benefit from these transactions? 

Most clearly, these transactions will bring financial strength and sustainability to the work of creating communities that value animals and treat them with respect and kindness. No organization can fully serve animals and families in need if it has to worry about its financial sustainability. 

In addition, WHS has developed innovative approaches that help animals stay in their homes and out of the shelter, progressive people-centric adoption processes that remove barriers and build relationships, and resources for the community like vaccine clinics, pet food banks, low-cost spay/neuter, and programs for underserved youth. We are excited to add these approaches to the already good work being done at BAHS and DCHS.


Did WHS pay for BAHS or DCHS?  

Not in the sense of a monetary payment.  Actual monetary funds are not exchanged in this type of acquisition between non-profit organizations. WHS assumes all assets, deficits, and a limited list of liabilities of BAHS and DCHS.  In addition, WHS will be spending approximately $175,000 in transition costs.


Are you going to consolidate the two locations?

No. There are no plans to consolidate the two locations as they serve widely different geographic regions of the state. We anticipate that their proximity to each other, however, will be a benefit to both facilities, as is the case with our other campuses. 


Who will handle animal control?

We are fully prepared to continue the stray contracts and relationships already in place, and look forward to working with local municipalities in both Brown and Door Counties to continue these partnerships. 


What is happening to the staff at BAHS and DCHS?

We are excited to welcome both staff and volunteers from BAHS and DCHS to WHS.  We have no plans to merge the locations, lay off employees, or reduce pay.  Staff at both locations will soon be introduced to our organizational structure, values, management approach, and health insurance and other benefits.  Organizationally, we will be hiring a few new positions right away across our locations to support the expanded work of our foster/transfer, human resources, volunteer, fundraising, animal care and client service teams. 


Who will manage BAHS and DCHS?

BAHS will be managed by Olivia Webster, the current director of operations at BAHS. She has been with BAHS for ten years and is looking forward to the opportunity to work in partnership with the WHS team to help more animals and families. DCHS will be managed by Carol Boudreau, the current executive director of DCHS and former animal care coordinator.  Carol previously worked in market research, and as the intake coordinator and board member with a successful animal rescue group.


Will this affect your Racine Campus capital campaign?

If it does, the effect will be positive.  We will be adding a staff member to assist donors in the Bay/Door region, so there will be no need to shift staff away from the Racine capital campaign to serve our new areas.  Our goal is to help every donor have the impact he or she personally envisions for animals. Many supporters across our service area are inspired by the impact they can make for an animal saved by WHS, and whether that animal is in Racine or Sturgeon Bay, often doesn’t make a difference to a loving heart. 


What happens to the board members of BAHS and DCHS?

First of all, we’re grateful to both boards for their partnership, service, and leadership to their respective communities. It is unquestionable that they had the best interests of animals and people in mind as they developed this succession plan for their organizations. The boards of each organization will dissolve; there may be up to three BAHS board members elected to the WHS board of directors. We do not anticipate any DCHS board members to join the WHS board.  We will also be forming a Community Committee of leaders who will serve as advisors and ambassadors, and both BAHS and DCHS board members may be part of this group.


Will we be able to help more animals and families than these organizations are currently helping?

In the old measure of how many adoptions we can do, probably not, since the number of homeless animals is falling nationally. We may be able to transport more animals to be adopted at the new locations, but that is neither certain nor a long-term strategy. 

By other important measures, however, these transactions do allow us to help more animals and families than are currently being served. First, since both BAHS and DCHS care for seized animals for municipalities, these transactions will let us bring our greater capacity to help animals in hoarding conditions. Second, we can bring innovative approaches that help animals stay in their homes and out of the shelter, progressive processes to remove barriers to adoption, and community services like vaccine clinics, pet food banks, low-cost spay/neuter, and programs for underserved youth. 


Are all three organizations “no-kill”? 

WHS, BAHS and DCHS all share a similar practice and philosophy toward supporting animals who come through our doors. None of the organizations euthanize animals for reasons of space or time. All animals in our adoption programs have as long as it takes to find a new home, whether that’s three hours or three months. This promise will hold true as we move forward.  To learn more about WHS’s outcome decision making policy, visit 


Is WHS planning to construct a new building in either community?

WHS has no immediate plans to construct any new facilities other than our plans for a new shelter in Racine County. We will certainly assess the facilities in Green Bay and Door County over time to ensure that the buildings adequately support the communities’ needs. 


If I make a donation to BAHS or DCHS, can I be sure my dollars will stay in that community?  

Absolutely. If you are interested in making a donation specifically for one community, please indicate that your donation is for that location, and those funds will be allocated to that location.   


How can the community help? 

Support from local animal lovers will always be the lifeblood of our work in helping animals in need. This transition does require a significant investment from the Wisconsin Humane Society, and we all need your help and support to make it work. Tell us what you are hearing and thinking. We want to make sure you get all the information you need. And if you are interested in supporting WHS with a monetary gift, visit or mail your donation to any WHS location, including Bay Area or Door County. 


Are you planning more transactions like this?

We are not working on any other transactions like this right now, but we do believe that animal welfare organizations will continue to combine in the future and that this trend will strengthen our work for animals and families.  As Wisconsin’s oldest animal welfare organization, WHS has always worked to identify and respond to the most pressing needs of animals. Many people do not know that every humane society is a local, separate organization, not a chapter of any national organization. This means that every local humane society must raise money to provide all of its own overhead, even though much of that overhead is duplicated at the humane society down the road. At best, it’s an inefficient use of the resources donors entrust to us. And increasingly, this fragmentation places small organizations at risk to sustainability and relevance as they struggle to reinvent, and then fund, every wheel. We are determined to keep improving our capacity to help when local organizations are in need.       


Will this change increase overhead expenses?  

No. One of the biggest advantages of the change is that it will eliminate duplicative overhead expenses.  As separate organizations, for example, BAHS and DCHS had to pay for separate audit reports and separate tax returns.  Now, their financial results can be included in the audit report and tax return that WHS already prepares.  So, donor dollars that had to be spent on separate reports before can now be spent on more direct help for animals.  


Are you going to change the names of BAHS and DCHS?  

We’re looking at that now!  When we started working in Ozaukee County, we waited to change the name of the Ozaukee County Humane Society location, while in Racine, we changed the name from the old Countryside Humane Society right away.  We’re looking to find the best balance between simplicity, avoiding confusion, and continuing to inspire strong support for local animals and families.  Your input is welcome; tell us what you think!  


  • Friday, December 1, 2017