Animal Shelter Tax Returns


Update:  When I first wrote this post, I couldn’t find the medical expenses for the Upper Keys shelter.  It turns out they are lumped in with “Operating Expenses” and are included in a detail sheet way in the back – it’s the second to last page.  That said, the Upper Keys shelter spent very little on medical care and supplies as compared to the other two shelters – only $24,000.  The Lower Keys shelter and Middle Keys shelter spent $92,000 and $49,000 respectively.  Post has been corrected to reflect the new findings.

I’m still on the high kill rate issue at the Upper Keys animal shelter run by Humane Animal Care Coalition (HACC).  I took a look at the tax returns for all of the animal shelters.  Interesting.  I found them on Guidestar.  I have a free basic membership.  Recommend it to anyone.  Great service.

I compared returns from each of the three shelters for 2013.  I chose that particular year for a few reasons:

  • Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Keys (SHARK) was still around then.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at George Neugent’s very favorite animal shelter operator.  What’s so fantastic about SHARK that he would go after Stand Up for Animals (SUFA) and drag the taxpayers through years of pointless litigation, earning himself sanctions for ethics violations in the process?
  • In 2014, it looks like the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA) collected huge bucks for a new building.  That throws the apples-to-apples comparison way out of whack.  I thought it would be better to look at a year when everybody’s finances were comparable.

The documents were provided courtesy of Guidestar.

Now for some observations:

  • HACC listed only $24,000 on medical care and veterinary fees.  They claim to have a free spay/neuter program which has reduced the number of animals coming into the shelter.  But they don’t spend much on it.
  • SHARK claims to have zero employees, but pays over $179,000 in salaries.  How did that work exactly?  My assumption is that they mixed up the line for employees and the line for volunteers.  If that’s the case, they actually had five employees earning about $55,000 each.  That’s about $20,000 more per employee than either HACC or FKSPCA.
  • SHARK’s tax return was prepared by Zuelch Consulting, LLC.  It was signed by Christian Zuelch as the tax preparer and also as an officer of SHARK.  Zuelch was on the board that year as Treasurer.  Also worth noting, SHARK’s accounting fees are about three times higher than the other two shelters.  From the looks of things, SHARK was paying one of their own officers a premium to prepare their tax return.  Weird that Comm. Kolhage, auditor extraordinaire didn’t pick that up.  Zuelch Consulting, LLC went out of business about the same time SHARK did.  I guess they lost their biggest client.
  • I have to say that FKSPCA looks to be the only credible shelter operator in the Keys – at least for this particular year.  They collect revenues for services, which supplements their grants and donations.  They spend a good bit on medical care.   Salaries seem reasonable.  They spent a lot on fundraising activities – $96,000.  But they also earned a lot $117,000.  I’m not finding any nits to pick.

Those are my observations so far.  I’ll do some more digging as time permits.  It’s way past time to fix the horrible situation in the Upper Keys.  Unfortunately, there’s so much lying and dishonesty surrounding the whole issue of animal control.  And the county most definitely is at the center of all of it.




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