Animosity Among Animal Groups; An Attempted Collaboration Gone Bad

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My three kittens / Yafüt™

July 18, 2016; Boulder City Review

Boulder City Paws ’n’ Claws and the Boulder City Animal Shelter are parting ways after contention between the organizations and confusion from donors. It appears that some donors were under the impression that funds donated to Paws ’n’ Claws would go directly to the animal shelter. However, the president of Paws ’n’ Claws, Kathy Hicks, says that the donations were never intended to go to the shelter. Rather, the contributions were to be used for a reimbursement program for spaying, neutering, and microchipping pets adopted from the shelter. Hicks said, “We have always been very clear that money going to us is not going to the animal shelter.”

In fact, the mission of the organization states that the nonprofit “raises funds to subsidize the cost of spay/neuter surgeries and microchip implants for animals adopted from the City of Boulder City’s shelter.”

Boulder City Police Chief Timothy Shea concurs with Hicks, saying, “I was never under the impression that Paws ‘n’ Claws was working with us. Donated money goes to their spay and neuter program. The money was never supposed to go to the animal shelter.”

While the heads of these organizations are on the same page, donor confusion grew from joint campaigns organized by Paws ’n’ Claws and the animal shelter. The two groups promoted animal adoptions together, reuniting lost pets with their owners, and the two shared the same Facebook page. Donors were confused by the co-branding. One anonymous donor gifted Paws ’n’ Claws $1000 only to withdraw the donation after realizing that the shelter did not receive the gift.

Paws ’n’ Claws and the Boulder City Animal Shelter finally parted ways when Paws ’n’ Claws rejected the shelter’s request for financial support for a program unrelated to spaying/neutering or microchipping.

This story highlights some of the risks that accompany partnerships. Studies of the nonprofit sector indicate that as of 2014, 91 percent of nonprofit organizations take part in some form of collaboration with other groups. (NPQ has addressed this issue before in articles such as “Collaboration: The Nonprofit Trend” and “Forbes Takes on Nonprofit Collaboration.”) Truly added value comes from “fitting” properly, though, and that fit must consider how stakeholders will perceive and respond. On the surface, these organizations should be able to work together hand-in-glove—but, as always, people are involved, and that’s where it gets dicey.—Sheela Nimishakavi