Episode 9: Elina Alterman of Lawrence Humane Society

By Clint Patty, J.D.

Clint Patty:

Well, hello there. Welcome to Investing in Good, a podcast that shines a spotlight on those making a profound impact within Northeast Kansas. This podcast is proudly presented by Clayton Wealth Partners, your partner in philanthropic financial planning for individual donors and investment management for endowments, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. In each episode, we’re going to sit down with the remarkable leaders and dedicated workers of nonprofits across the state of Kansas. We’re going to listen to their stories, learn about their causes, and talk about the challenges they have in making the lives of Kansans better each and every day. So stay tuned now as we delve into our next inspiring story on Investing in Good.

All right, welcome back to Investing in Good. I’m Clint Patty, the managing partner at Clayton Wealth Partners, sitting at our offices at 832 Pennsylvania in Lawrence, Kansas on a very beautiful day and glad to Welcome to the podcast today, Elina Alterman, the director of development and communications for the Lawrence Humane Society. Welcome, Elina.

Elina Alterman:

Thank you so much for having me.

Clint Patty:

We want to hear obviously a lot about the Lawrence Humane Society, but you have a fascinating background and a wide range of experience I know our audience would be interested in. So give me just a little bit about your background, what led you here and what finally led you to the Lawrence Humane Society?

Elina Alterman:

So it’s actually funny because I started at the Lawrence Humane Society. When I was a little kid, I volunteered there. My family moved to Lawrence when I was seven, and I spent a lot of elementary school and middle school volunteering there. Never knew it was a career, never occurred to me. I went to college in Boston. I went to grad school at UNC Chapel Hill, got a double master’s in social work and public health and had a variety of jobs. I did traditional foster care social work work. I was a foster care social worker in a rural North Carolina community and saw some pretty rough stuff. Worked as a pregnancy test counselor and maternity care coordinator in the military community in North Carolina. Also saw some interesting things. And then decided policy is where it’s at, and so I moved to DC where my family had moved while I was in college.

And I went to work on Capitol Hill for a member of congress from California. And this was right after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, so a lot of what we were doing was implementation of that legislation, and my focus area was healthcare and women’s and families’ issues. And then after a while I left the Hill, went to a nonprofit still in DC and was in charge of lobbying and the legislative effort around health IT. And so the interesting part there was then this was right after the legislation that basically created electronic health records. So what we were working on was then the implementation of electronic health records and making sure that they were not just working for the doctors, but also working for the patients.

So a lot of the things that I was working on was really focused on health equity and health disparities, making sure that there was a place for a doctor to note if a patient was transgender because obviously that would impact their health journey. And then I just got tired of DC and I wanted to move back to the Midwest.

Clint Patty:

Not the first person, I think, that’s ever expressed that.

Elina Alterman:

That’s the thing about DC, no one’s really from there. Everyone’s from somewhere else or on their way to somewhere else. So I started looking for jobs back in the Midwest and actually moved to Wichita and was in Wichita for five years. I was a program officer at the Kansas Health Foundation, which is the largest health foundation in the state.

Clint Patty:

We’re big fans of the Kansas Health Foundation.

Elina Alterman:

Oh, really?

Clint Patty:

Oh, yes. So that’s great. What great experience there too.

Elina Alterman:

But I focused on two areas. One was health disparities. I guess technically three areas. So one was health disparities, one was strengthening nonprofits, building capacity at nonprofits across the state. And then the third was voter engagement, making it easier for folks to register to vote and vote. So that was a lot of fun. I got to work with a lot of great nonprofits across the state. And I always loved animals. When I was growing up, we had one dog, and when I was in North Carolina, I ended up with four cats and one dog. That’s what I had in DC. And when I moved to Wichita, I kept finding stray kittens in my yard and so I very quickly learned how to care for them and how to bottle feed. I’d never had a cat before, I had never had really any interactions with cats before until I was… How old was I at that point? 28.

And so I learned all about them and then quickly became the person that you bring kittens to in the community. And so that’s actually how I found my way back to Lawrence Humane. While I was in Wichita, there was a social media post or something about if anyone’s interested in working on some animal welfare legislation, to come to this meeting. And so I went and said, “I don’t work in this field, but I have a personal interest and I have a lot of grassroots advocacy experience.” Also, while I was in college, I was a grassroots organizer in Boston, so I could bring that to the table.

And I met the director of the Lawrence Humane Society who was new at that time. And so she and I just had a connection and anytime I was in Lawrence, which was a lot for work, we’d get together. And then when I moved back to Lawrence shortly before the pandemic, she was already gone, but she had introduced me to the Humane Society attorney, Katie Barnett. And Katie and I went to lunch and she was like, “You really should meet the new director. You guys would get along so well.” Because she knew that the at the time new, now current director, Shannon and I had a very similar outlook on the intersection of human and animal welfare.

Clint Patty:

Talk a little bit about that.

Elina Alterman:

So the best way to help pets is to help people. And that’s not traditionally been the case. That’s not how it’s been seen on either side, on the human welfare side or the animal welfare side. On the animal welfare side, for forever, humans have been seen as the enemy. Humans are the ones who hurt the animals. Humans are the ones that the animals need to be rescued from, aside from, of course, the adopters. Obviously we want animals adopted.

Clint Patty:

Humans neglect animals.

Elina Alterman:

Exactly.

Clint Patty:

You see that a lot.

Elina Alterman:

Exactly. And animal welfare, just like every other system in this country, has a really bad history with racism and a lot of the restrictions that were in place, things like you have to have references and you have to have a vet reference and you have to own your home, and you have to have a fenced yard and all of these restrictions, you have to do a home check and fill out this application, all of that is basically redlining. It is this idea of what makes a “good pet owner” or adopter, and really what we’re talking about is wealthy and White. Luckily, animal welfare has been going through a revolution, again, just like everything else. And a lot of that thinking has gone away.

It certainly has gone away at Lawrence Humane. We’ve reduced every barrier we possibly could to adoption. And Shannon and I very much believe that humans are the ones who care for the animals. Humans are the ones who buy the food, who pay the mortgage or pay the rent. The best way to help pets is to help the humans ’cause the pets aren’t the ones that are funding their lifestyle.

Clint Patty:

Right. You’ve got to be able to equip people to be able to take care of pets.

Elina Alterman:

Exactly, yes.

Clint Patty:

I know in my neighborhoods, growing up in small towns, you would just see people dump animals out in the middle of nowhere. And I always thought, how can you do that? But it’s because they weren’t equipped. They weren’t, for whatever reason. They either weren’t prepared or they weren’t economically able to take care of them, or they just weren’t emotionally ready for the responsibility that these creatures come with.

Elina Alterman:

Yeah, exactly. And there’s a lot of shaming and judgment that comes with that. And again, when all the work that we’ve done in the last few years at the Humane Society to just update the thinking and the practices. Not only have we on the adoption side removed all the barriers, now it’s same day adoption. You come in, you have to speak with the counselor. The adoption counselor has a conversation with you of what kind of animal are you looking for? Are you looking for a couch potato or are you looking for a running buddy? If this dog that you’re interested in is known to jump a fence and you don’t have a six-foot fence, or this dog can scale a six-foot fence, what’s your plan?

But there’s no application, there’s no home check, there’s no references. You come in, you have a conversation, and if it’s a good fit, you take the animal home that same day. And on the other side of the building where we take in animals, whether it’s owner surrender or stray or what have you, for the owner surrender part also, we’ve worked really hard to remove the judgment, and something I can definitely dive into more and would love to dive into more, which is our efforts to keep pets and people together. But the first thing we’ll do when someone calls to surrender a pet or comes to surrender a pet is say, “Well, what’s going on? How can we help? Maybe we can prevent it.”

And if we can’t, then we try to do it as non-judgmentally as possible. Again, you have a conversation with someone about what is going on, and you get as much information as you can from them about the animal so that you have an easier time finding a home for that animal. But you’re not perceived as evil for surrendering this pet. Certainly evil exists, and we certainly see horrible things sometimes, but that’s not the majority.

Clint Patty:

That’s not the norm.

Elina Alterman:

No.

Clint Patty:

It would seem to be the norm is just people either not equipped one way or the other to be ready to take care of an animal, and it’s time to give it up, but to a better home. That’s the goal.

Elina Alterman:

That’s always the hope, yeah. And on the human welfare side, and I saw this when I was working at the Health Foundation, animals are still seen as this fluffy, superficial, nice, feel-good thing. There’s still a lot of funders, a lot of folks who don’t really see the importance of animal [inaudible 00:12:02] human’s health. And we are very lucky that we have incredible partners in this community with organizations like Bert Nash, who their caseworkers recognize how important pets are to mental health. We work with just about every nonprofit here in the community, and we work with Just Food because not only are we serving the same people, but again, they have seen, they know that people will feed their pets before they feed themselves. And we’ve seen that and we’ve seen people pass out because they’re not eating because they’re giving their food to their pets.

Clint Patty:

That’s unbelievable. Wow.

Elina Alterman:

It is. Truly, pets are so important to a family structure and to someone’s mental health. We had a woman that we worked with who was having suicidal ideation and would not seek treatment because she had no one to care for her dog, she was all alone. And it very easily could have ended badly. Luckily, her caseworker from Bert Nash was familiar with our programs and this program I’ll tell you about, and she brought the dog to us to care for while she got treatment. And she’s alive and she’s okay.

Clint Patty:

That’s such a wonderful… Tell me about this program. This sounds amazing.

Elina Alterman:

So the program I’m talking about, we call the Crisis Pet Retention program, CPR for short. This came out of the pandemic. This whole idea of keeping pets and people together and human and animal welfare being intersectional, that’s what Shannon and I bonded over. We met and we instantly both saw this, and so I came to work actually at the Humane Society as the first ever social worker. And we were one of the first shelters in the country to have a social worker on staff. And then of course, the pandemic happened. The CPR program is something that we had already been thinking about, but because of COVID, it gave us the resources, frankly, to launch it, but also it really gave us the impetus.

It started October of 2020. It is an effort to keep pets and people together through whatever crisis someone might be experiencing. At that time, people were losing their jobs, they’re losing their homes, and then they’re having to surrender their pet. And you’re layering trauma on top of trauma on top of trauma. And if there’s kids in the family, that’s especially adversely affecting them and their mental health, and we wanted to prevent that. We have limited space in the shelter, we want to keep those kennels available for animals who really don’t have a loving family, and we don’t want a loving family to give up their pet.

So we were very, very lucky to get $60,000 of funding from the county, from COVID relief funds that had been allocated to our community, and we were able to launch this program. And it actually allowed us to collect a lot of data that really gave the quantitative data to what we already instinctually knew, which is that people don’t want to surrender their pets and they want to do the best they can for their pets. They just lack access or they lack the affordability. So through this program, we started our pet pantry. We provide pet food and pet supplies to anyone who needs it. And this program has continued, obviously, past the pandemic. ‘Cause that’s the other thing that the data showed, is that this was not just folks who were unemployed because of the pandemic. A significant portion of the folks that were applying for help were folks who are on fixed income.

So we’re talking seniors, we’re talking folks on social security and disability, folks who would love to work but can’t for whatever reason. And actually, a lot of the folks were employed, they’re not making enough. They’re not making a living wage and so they need help. And so the pet pantry has continued. In 2023, we gave out just under 103,000 pounds of pet food. It was 102,900 pounds.

Clint Patty:

Wow.

Elina Alterman:

We’re giving out 10 to 12,000 pounds of pet food every single month.

Clint Patty:

And that’s allowing these pets to stay with their owners. And good for the pets and ultimately good for the owners too.

Elina Alterman:

And it’s making sure that the owners aren’t giving their food to the pets.

Clint Patty:

You had said something earlier about people not realizing how important pets are to their mental health. If you have a good pet… My dog is a great example. My dog has a wonderful sense when people are down and will wander to that person, lay his chin on us and just look at you with those big, old, sad eyes that Otis has, and instantly make you feel better, make you feel like you’ve got a connection. And it’s a strange thing ’cause growing up with dogs, I don’t know that I ever really made that connection, but they do. They have a sense for their owners and what they need. And from a mental health standpoint, you really want to keep these owners and-

Elina Alterman:

Absolutely.

Clint Patty:

And pets together.

Elina Alterman:

The flip side of that is also the toll that it will take on your mental health if you can’t provide for this being that loves you so much and that you love so much. So the other things we do through this program is we provide low cost and subsidized vet care. So we already actually had a low cost spay/neuter program through the shelter, but this just really amplified that and made it so if someone can’t afford private vet care and then they can’t afford our low cost vet care, then we will subsidize the rest through the CPR program.

So if they can afford $50, great, we’ll subsidize the rest. If they can afford $5, great, we’ll subsidize the rest. If they can’t afford anything, we will still subsidize it so that they can get their pets spayed and neutered, they can get them vaccinated, microchipped. If there’s an emergency surgery needed, an amputation, whatever, we can do that. We’re very lucky that we have this new building that we moved into in June of 2019 and we have three vets on staff and we have two vet techs, and we’re hiring for two more. But we have almost a fully operational clinic.

Clint Patty:

That’s wonderful. Well, tell me, for folks that may want to get connected with the CPR program, how do they get a hold of the Lawrence Humane Society and who do they need to talk to?

Elina Alterman:

You’re saying for assistance?

Clint Patty:

Yes.

Elina Alterman:

So the way it works is that there’s an application, and that’s just so that we can get all the information, and that’s on our website on lawrencehumane.org. And in one of the dropdown menu options, there’s Crisis Pet Retention Program, and you can just go on there and you fill out an application and our social worker, Maddie will reach out to you and talk to you and get you scheduled or find you assistance. The other thing is that we do have these relationships with all these other nonprofits, so they know to refer folks to us. We get anywhere from 60 to 80 applications a month.

Clint Patty:

Wow.

Elina Alterman:

Yeah. So we help with pet food and vet care. We provide monthly vaccine clinics for folks that can’t afford or can’t access vaccines through their private vet. And that application is also online. You just sign up so that when we are scheduling the next vaccine clinic, ’cause they change every month, the date and the time so we try to accommodate for a lot of work schedules so that we can reach out to you and get you scheduled. We also, like in the case of the woman who was having suicidal ideation, one of the components of this program is temporary pet boarding. So if someone is needing hospitalization for mental health or physical health or has found themselves without a home, any kind of situation like that, or if someone has to go to rehab or if someone is seeking safety in a domestic violence situation, we will board the pet.

Clint Patty:

Wow, that’s great. What a great service.

Elina Alterman:

Once upon a time, the only option was to surrender your pet. And so now we’ll have the pet at the shelter, we’ll have the pet in a foster home, and once someone’s back on their feet, they get reunited. So we have, generally every month, 12 to 20 animals utilizing this program every month. And our reunification rate is about 79, 80%.

Clint Patty:

So I’m going to run back to actually something you talked about at the beginning. I think your background is fascinating, and obviously as a small child, volunteering at the animal shelter is a huge thing. Getting kids to do anything, let alone volunteer nowadays is pretty unique. But then you move on and you most certainly realize this, every job and every position you do is designed around public service, either at the policy level. Or what I love about your background is you also have very much the dirt under the nails working with the folks to make their lives better. Where does that dedication to a lifetime of service come from?

Elina Alterman:

I imagine it comes from my background. So my family immigrated to the US when I was five. Most of my dad’s family was killed in the Holocaust. My mom’s family is Koryo-saram, which is a sect of Korean folks who Stalin displaced to Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan and that area. And a lot of people perished through that forced move, forced relocation. And so my parents grew up impoverished. We obviously were born in ’85 and then in communist Russia. I remember after we moved to the US, going to a grocery store and just being blown away by the abundance of food. Food was not easy to come by in Russia.

Clint Patty:

Probably also surprised by the amount that was thrown away by the average American family. It’s pathetic, really.

Elina Alterman:

I remember eating my first yogurt and banana and cereal, and truly this abundance that we didn’t know and that certainly my parents hadn’t known and my grandparents. I imagine the service mindedness comes from that, from just being grateful for what we have. And I just want to make the world better when I leave than when I found it.

Clint Patty:

Well, it would seem that every move you’ve made is designed for that, so hat’s off to you. That’s fantastic. Let’s talk a little bit specifically about the Humane Society. What kind of animals does a humane society primarily serve?

Elina Alterman:

It’s companion animals primarily. So we have cats and dogs, that’s the majority. We have handheld animals like rats and bunnies and guinea pigs and hamsters and things like that. We don’t have any exotic animals. That’s not something we do. We will occasionally have some farm animals, so we get a lot of roosters turned into us ’cause they’re not allowed in city limits, but no one knows that when they’re little.

Clint Patty:

You can keep those roosters. I had two of them in my neighborhood and oh, boy.

Elina Alterman:

And see, I love them. I have a rooster. I live out in the county.

Clint Patty:

Wow. You don’t mind waking up early then. That’s good.

Elina Alterman:

He crows all the time. It doesn’t matter that it’s early. He can crow at night.

Clint Patty:

That’s true. Very true. Very true.

Elina Alterman:

We’ll get chickens and roosters. We’ve gotten pigs before. And again, we try to partner with other organizations. We know we’re not the pig experts, so we partner with a rescue out of Kansas City, the Kansas City Pig Rescue Network. We all work together.

Clint Patty:

That’s amazing. Talk about the importance that volunteers play with the Humane Society.

Elina Alterman:

Oh my gosh, we would not function without volunteers. And we actually know that because during COVID we couldn’t allow volunteers in the building. So we know what it’s like to function without volunteers and we never want to go back to that again. We, in 2023, and I wish I had the exact number in my head, but we had I think 847 unique volunteers. I think that’s the right number, it’s between eight and 900. And then the amount of hours that they contributed just in one year, if you add those up and think about how much a full-time employee would work, it is the equivalent of five and a half full-time employees. Volunteers are so helpful and we want volunteers.

Something else that we’ve been working on recently… I shouldn’t say recently, last few years, is making sure that we are as inclusive and accessible as possible to the community. So making sure that we have a variety of volunteer activities so if someone maybe has some mobility issues, if someone does have sensory issues, that they can still volunteer at the shelter. Maybe it’s not walking dogs, maybe it’s not being in really loud spaces with dogs, but there’s something for everyone. If you want to help animals in any way, we will find a place for you.

Clint Patty:

And again, for folks interested in becoming volunteers, same website?

Elina Alterman:

Same website. One of the dropdown options is volunteer, and there’s a volunteer application. It’s really real quick. And then you attend an orientation with our volunteer coordinator, Ashley, who’s amazing, and then you just start. We require the first four hours to be what we call ESH, which is essential shelter help. And that’s washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning up poop. And then after that, especially as you get to know the shelter and the different departments, you can get additional training. So if you want to start socializing cats or socializing dogs, you get additional training and start doing that. And then if you are particularly drawn to the clinic or to our behavior team or the adoptions team or my team, then you get additional training and you become a specialized volunteer. And it’s just really incredible how much our volunteers help us and how much we depend on them.

Clint Patty:

Well, you heard her. So for anyone interested, please jump on the website at lawrencehumane.org?

Elina Alterman:

Yep. And we have junior volunteers, so you have to be-

Clint Patty:

There you go.

Elina Alterman:

Seven with a grownup. It doesn’t have to be a parent or a grandparent. We have Bigs and Littles from Big Brothers Big Sisters that volunteer. You just have to attend the orientation together and you have to volunteer together. But age seven to 16, you have to have a grownup and then after 16, you can be on your own. And we have a lot of junior volunteers.

Clint Patty:

So obviously volunteers, important. Donors, also important as well, aren’t they?

Elina Alterman:

Donors are very important. Our budget is about $2.7 million every year. And that amount, it grows every year ’cause obviously costs go up every year and we’re helping more animals every year. It’s probably a conservative estimate that last year we helped 6,500 animals. I think we’d said the year before it was maybe about 5,000. I’m pretty sure those are conservative estimates. I’m quite sure it’s more than that. And we just keep expanding what we do and our outreach and our efforts every year, every month, so our budget grows.

Clint Patty:

And I’m sure as you expand, you discover there’s a greater need. A program like the CPR program, I assume you get into that and suddenly it’s, wow, we didn’t even realize how much need there was for this. No good deed goes unpunished.

Elina Alterman:

Exactly.

Clint Patty:

The work just gets more work.

Elina Alterman:

So we got the 60,000 to launch it, and that had to be used in three months, and we busted our butts and used every dollar ’cause I will be damned if I leave a dollar on the table. But after that, now it’s fundraising and it’s on me. We, last year, when we put together the budget for 2023, we estimated that we would need about $45,000 for it. We ended up spending about $85,000.

Clint Patty:

After you described it, I believe it. That’s a comprehensive program, and immediately I can think of number of people I know that would use a program like that.

Elina Alterman:

And the thing that increases the most in terms of cost every year is veterinary supplies. Vaccines have gone up in price so much. All the stuff that the vets use for surgery. And of course, we want to give raises to our staff and we want get our staff to a living wage. I’ll be honest, not all of the staff are at a living wage right now, and we don’t offer retirement benefits.

Clint Patty:

It’s tough on that budget to do that.

Elina Alterman:

And luckily, we have a really wonderful board and a really wonderful director who are committed to this and they’ve grown it so much. Just a few years ago, the starting salary at the Humane Society was $7 an hour. Luckily, it has more than doubled since then.

Clint Patty:

That’s great.

Elina Alterman:

And we’re going to get there. We’re going to get to a living wage, we’re going to get to retirement benefits. We want good people to stick around and make a career out of this. But that takes donors.

Clint Patty:

It does, it takes donors. And so for people who have a passion for animals, and I know a number of people back when I was practicing law, they would leave various animal shelters in their will too. Plan giving has become such a big part of helping nonprofits. How and who do they get ahold of at Lawrence Humane to make sure they can get connected on donating?

Elina Alterman:

Me.

Clint Patty:

Awesome. Perfect. I knew I had the right person in here today.

Elina Alterman:

I transitioned to this role, gosh, August of 2021, I think, maybe. All time has run together. But my information’s on our website if you just look under Staff and you click my picture and my email’s on there. I give out my phone number everywhere. It’s my cell phone. I don’t care who has it. That’s fine. It’s usually the best way to get ahold of me. And also, if you go on our website, there’s a button, it says, “Donate,” and then it drops down all the different ways that you can donate. You can do a one-time gift online. You can become a monthly donor. You can donate specifically to the CPR program or to the general fund.

There’s the active ways of donating and then there’s a lot of, I guess, I don’t know if it’s the right word, but passive ways to donate. So connecting your Dylan’s card to Lawrence Humane Society so when you shop, Dylan’s will give some proceeds to the Humane Society. There’s a puppy pump at the BP gas station at the intersection of Iowa and 31st Street right by Best Buy, and there’s two pumps at that gas station where they donate 2 cents of every gallon pumped to us. You have to fill up anyway, might as well go fill up where your money will come to us.

Clint Patty:

And help a pet. Absolutely.

Elina Alterman:

There’s a lot of little things like that. And something that we try really hard to do is to make sure that there’s a variety of ways for folks to engage with us and to donate. Not everyone can give a $10,000 gift. Not everyone can give a $100 gift, but again, if you’re filling up your car, that’s still a way to donate. That’s still a way to participate.

Clint Patty:

Absolutely. So talk about, are there any big projects or events, anything coming up you want to talk about?

Elina Alterman:

There’s always so much.

Clint Patty:

We’ve talked about a ton already, but any in specific you want to talk about, maybe give a plug to?

Elina Alterman:

Yeah. So we have a few big events coming up. So we have our annual Paw Valley Challenge that is the entire month of June. So it’s basically a month long virtual event where you’re walking, running, moving your body in some way, and your apps are tracking it and they’re feeding it into this website. And people sign up individually, they sign up as teams, and it’s a competitive thing. Who can walk the most? Who can run the most? And so we have that the entire month of June. And then we come together for a big party on June 30th on the Humane Society front lawn and we have free food and drinks, boozy and non. We have a face painter and music and all the things. So it’s a way to encourage folks to move. All the better if you move with a shelter dog, take them for a walk. But it’s just a way to engage.

And so that begins soon. People can sign up now. You go to our website, lawrencehumane.org, first thing you’ll see is a sign-up for the Paw Valley Challenge. It’s really easy. We’re going to be at the Pride Festival on June 1st. Every year we have a different pride shirt, and so we have a really cute shirt this year. Let’s see. In late August, early September, we don’t know the exact date yet, it’s going to be Clear the Shelter. That’s a big national event that is organized by NBC and Hill’s Pet Nutrition. And on that, we do this crescendo event where on this one day, all the adoptions are free. It’s a big thing. Staff are working insane hours the days leading up to it and that day. And then it’s not unusual for all of us to get together at the end of the day and just cry in a good way.

Clint Patty:

Happy tears, right?

Elina Alterman:

All the animals adopted. And so, like I said, we don’t know that date yet. It gets told to us by NBC. But we always need sponsors for things like that because obviously if an animal’s getting adopted for free, then there’s no adoption fee.

Clint Patty:

That money comes from somewhere.

Elina Alterman:

Yes. It costs generally about $100 to get an animal adoption ready. That’s a good average. So any business that would want to sponsor that, you can donate $500 and that gets five animals adoption ready. And then on September 12th, we will have our big annual gala, which is the Fur Ball. It’s the 30th anniversary of the Fur Ball, so it’ll be pretty big. Clayton Wealth Partners been a sponsor the last few years, so thank you.

Clint Patty:

I’m glad to do it. No, actually looking forward to that. That’s going to be fun.

Elina Alterman:

It’s fun. It’s at the Lawrence Arts Center. There’s great food from merchants. There’s a live auction, silent auction. Last year we surprised the audience with some of the football and basketball team members from KU coming up on stage. So that’s always a good time.

Clint Patty:

Which for a graduate of the North Carolina Tar Heels, that has to be hard for you to see sometimes.

Elina Alterman:

No, I grew up here.

Clint Patty:

Oh, yeah, that’s right.

Elina Alterman:

I grew up a KU fan. In fact, when I was at Chapel Hill, I was wearing all my Jayhawks stuff just to piss them off.

Clint Patty:

Good for you. You know what? You were already way high up. I think you just took another level up in my book. Good for you. Let them have it.

Elina Alterman:

Never went to a Tar Heels game. I would never root for them.

Clint Patty:

That’s fantastic.

Elina Alterman:

And actually, my dad told me when he knew I was applying there that I couldn’t come home for Christmas that year. And I actually think he would’ve meant it. If not for my mom, I’m not sure I would’ve been allowed to come home.

Clint Patty:

Well, you left Roy there and you came back, so I think we’re pretty happy. We did all right in that trade as far as I’m concerned. So we got Fur Ball coming up, Paw Valley Challenge, Pride Festival, Clear the Shelter. It’s a busy summer going into fall, isn’t it?

Elina Alterman:

There’s so much. And then we always have a lot of things that we want to do with the shelter. One big exciting announcement that we haven’t really told the whole community about yet, we got a very generous grant from Petco Love, which used to be the Petco Foundation, that allowed us to purchase a van that we will be using to do mobile veterinary outreach.

Clint Patty:

Oh, that’s great.

Elina Alterman:

So when I say van, this thing is monstrous. You can stand in it. It’s going to be very comfortable to vaccinate a dog in there. It’s not just a rinky-dink little van. So it’s going to be a whole thing. We now have it. We now have the van. We’re going to be outfitting it inside to have all the medical stuff in there, but this way we will be able to do mobile veterinary care. And that’s the next evolution. We always have a whole list of things that we need and that we want to do, and so I think that if anyone that’s listening is interested in participating in that, I would encourage folks to reach out. I would love to get coffee to give them a tour of the shelter.

And I’ve had people come and just say, “Hey, what do you guys need? What’s the next thing?” And I tell them, and they want to participate in some way. One of the most incredible moments was when I had an older couple come and say, “What do you guys need?” And I was like, “Well, the big thing that we need is a little pricey.” And they’re like, “Just what do you need?” And I said, “Well, we really need an X-ray machine. It’s about $50,000.” And they’re like, “Great. Done.”

Clint Patty:

Wow. Boy, that’s the kind of help you really need too. That’s incredible.

Elina Alterman:

What I didn’t know was that the gentleman was terminally ill, and he wanted to see the good done with the money that he would leave us as a bequest. He wanted to see it done before he passed.

Clint Patty:

Wow. What a gentleman. My goodness.

Elina Alterman:

Yeah. So there’s so much we want to do that I would encourage anyone that is at all interested, to reach out.

Clint Patty:

So folks, if you’re interested in being a donor, a volunteer, any of these wonderful events that are coming out, reach out through the website at lawrencehumane.org or call the Humane Society and ask for Elina. She will gladly meet you for coffee or lunch or whatever you need and-

Elina Alterman:

Give you a tour of the shelter.

Clint Patty:

Give you a tour of the shelter, and find out the ways that you can connect and help this wonderful organization and its mission to not just help pets, but help pet owners too because it’s a two-way street of affection when it works right.

Elina Alterman:

Yeah, exactly. We’re so happy that we were able to find homes for 2,900 animals last year.

Clint Patty:

That’s wonderful.

Elina Alterman:

But what’s even more exciting is that ever since we started the CPR program, in just that first year, we had a 25% decrease in the number of animals surrendered. And that…

Clint Patty:

That’s a big number.

Elina Alterman:

That’s a big number. And we’re still playing catch up from COVID because during COVID, folks couldn’t spay or neuter their pets. All the PPE was going to hospitals, rightfully so, all the vets were booked up. So a lot of animals were born during COVID, and we are still playing catch up from that.

Clint Patty:

I would assume that’s going to go on for a little while. You talked a lot about COVID, so I didn’t ask you specifically about it, but you can tell big impact, obviously.

Elina Alterman:

Yes. Just last year, it kept feeling like we were getting more puppies and more puppies than usual. And finally when I was working on our impact report, I ran the stats and we had 20% more puppies last year than in the years prior.

Clint Patty:

That’s crazy.

Elina Alterman:

And most of them are arriving in boxes that someone found on the side of the road.

Clint Patty:

Terrible.

Elina Alterman:

It is. And I think that there’s very few people who don’t want to spay or neuter their pets. There’s a lot of people who can’t afford it or who can’t access it.

Clint Patty:

And it’s so critical. And again, you have those services available and if people want to hook up through the CPR program, that’s one way to do it.

Elina Alterman:

Yeah, absolutely.

Clint Patty:

Well, it’s our turn, community, to help, to join, to volunteer, to donate and support this wonderful organization that’s doing great work for both animals and humans. I want to thank Elina Alterman, the director of development and communication for the Lawrence Humane Society. Again, you can reach out to her at lawrencehumane.org if you’d like to help, volunteer, or donate. Thank you all for joining us this week for Investing in Good. We will be back next month for another episode of Investing in Good. And until then, we will see you soon.

You’ve been listening to another episode of Investing in Good. Today’s episode was brought to you by Clayton Wealth Partners. If you’re an individual seeking to increase your impact through thoughtful charitable giving, or if you represent an endowment, a foundation, or a nonprofit that’s looking to safeguard and grow your financial assets, please consider partnering with Clayton Wealth Partners. You can visit us at claytonwealthpartners.com and discover how we can help guide and empower you in your mission to make a difference.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this year, 2024, marks 40 years that Clayton Wealth Partners has been in business. We would love to extend a very special thank you to our clients nationwide, and in particular, a thank you to all of Northeast Kansas. We often say that we are here for you. For the last 40 years, we are very thankful that you all have been here for us. On behalf of Clayton Wealth Partners, I’m Clint Patty. I thank you for listening. We will see you soon.

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Clint Patty, J.D.

As Managing Partner, Clint serves on the management team providing leadership, supporting business development efforts and providing client consultation.