SBK animal shelter cuts director position, cites lack of funding

After only 18 months on the job a local animal shelter director is out.

The board of the SBK animal shelter in Sullivan County is saying its not because of poor performance, it all boils down to a lack of funds.

We watched Thursday morning as Becky Birdwell packed up the last of her things.

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While she looked through piles of papers, it was a reminder of what she had hoped to accomplish.

“Theres a lot of potential here that I was working on,” said Birdwell.

On Wednesday, Birdwell found out that hope was cut short.

“My job has been eliminated,” said Birdwell.

The decision that was finalized Thursday afternoon by SBK animal shelter board members.

Tom Parham, President of the SBK Board, tells us how much they are cutting out of the budget by eliminating Birdwell’s salary.

“The cost for having a director is about $54,000. It gets us to where we are paying our bills, paying our employees,” said Parham.

This year the shelter asked Sullivan County and Kingsport for a combined extra $100,000 in funding just to cover operating expenses.

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Even with the current financial situation, several shelter volunteers, like Julie Perkins, came to support Birdwell and make one last plea to the board to let her stay.

“I’m mostly sad for Becky, I really like doing the fundraisers and she was a big part of that,” said Perkins.

Back at the shelter where Birdwell was finishing up, she showed us what was left of the most recent fundraiser for the shelter.

It was a fundraiser that raked in more than $10,000 for the shelter.

In the end the board says its a decision they thought about for months, and one they had to make in order to keep the shelters open, and financially stable.

“Their hope is because of releasing me and saving my salary, their hope is that will be their fix, we shall see,” said Birdwell.

We asked Parham who will take over Birdwell’s duties as director.

He tells us they are currently working on a plan, but will have a board member focus on some of her duties.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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