July 14, 2010; Source: The Pilot | To meet state regulations, North Carolina’s largest no-kill animal shelter, The Haven—Friends for Life, has to fully remodel its facility by September 1, since it missed a deadline of July 9 where it could have complied with state regulations by simply reducing the number of dogs. If The Haven misses its September 1 deadline, it could either be closed or taken over by the state.

State officials don’t seem pleased with The Haven, claiming that they’ve heard a steady stream of promises that it would make the improvements necessary to meet the standards of legislation passed in 2005, but nothing has been done. The director of the shelter, Linden Spear, says that she needs $60,000 to do the improvements, but she only has promises of perhaps $20,000 as matching grants. Apparently, the shelter has about 1,000 dogs and cats, though Spear admitted she didn’t really know how many dogs were there.

A quick glance at the organization’s 990 shows a decline in contributions and grants from $444,000 in FY2008 to $170,000 in FY2009, and a decline in program service revenue during the same two years from $164,000 to $111,000. It seems like the recession hit The Haven’s fundraising hard. During the four years that the state was pressing Spear to make the repairs, The Haven might have been financially better off to do the repairs than it is now.

The Pilot article was interesting in that it referred to Spear as the “owner” of the 501(c)(3) organization and suggested that if the state shut The Haven, Spear would become the owner of all of the animals there. Here’s why the Pilot might have mistaken Spear for the owner: As listed on The Haven’s 990, there are only two board members, Linden Spear and her husband Steve. The Spears bought a 200-acre horse farm in Raeford, North Carolina, in 1995 with the intention of breeding and training horses. However, they soon decided that the area didn’t need another horse farm, but rather an anti-euthanasia animal shelter. In other words, the 501(c)(3) Haven is located on land owned by the Spears. A quick glance at the shelter’s website and its 990 tells you that this is a labor of love for the Spears and their volunteer staff. We hope The Haven makes it.—Rick Cohen