Though no promises were made, Humane Society officials appear heartened at the results of a meeting Friday in St. Croix to discuss funding for the shelters.
Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II met with Mary Edwards, St. Croix shelter executive director; Dellia Holodenschi, St. Thomas Society board's vice-president; Frank Abednego, St. Croix board president; and Hubert Brumant, St. Thomas shelter manager.
"I feel it was a very productive meeting," Edwards said. "We came prepared with budgets, statistics and photos to illustrate our situation." The lieutenant governor seemed "quite receptive," she added.
The meeting was the result of numerous phone calls and letters over the past year explaining the shelters' plight with the current lack of funding. Both shelters were overlooked in the budget last year, and the $75,000 to be allocated to each shelter from government funding never materialized.
"I think the lieutenant governor now has a better understanding of the duties we perform," Edwards said.
She explained that the shelters are more than adoption agencies. They pick up stray or injured animals, conduct a spay and neuter program, investigate animal cruelty complaints and issue licenses, among other services. Many of these services have had to be abandoned due to lack of funds.
The Agriculture Department will now pick up animals, but the department warns any callers that the animals will be put down.
Brumant also appeared hopeful about the meeting, even though he came away without promises. "At least he heard us, and I think he learned something," he said.
Calls to the lieutenant governor's office were not returned.