Several Humane Society Board Members Stepping Down in 2022 | Local News
Scott Koperski Daily Sun News Editor
This year will bring many changes for the Beatrice Humane Society, primarily due to the departure of several board members.
Half of the board members are stepping down this year, some taking decades of experience helping animals with them.
Hal Thaut, Bette Anne Thaut, John Rypma, Vicky Lau, Teresa Faxton and Kathy Steinkamp are all quitting this year.
The Humane Society‘s bylaws require 5 to 15 board members. There will be six members left at the end of the month when all six leave. Rypma said there were no new board members in January, but hopefully new members will join later in the year.
For Bette Anne Thaut, this departure puts an end to a race for the board that lasted more than two decades.
She said the original shelter, which was in a now-demolished building west of the city auditorium on Fifth Street, began in the late 1990s when the police chief launched a call for anyone interested in creating a dedicated shelter. She got involved soon after.
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“That first group was made up of people who were big animal lovers and had big hearts, but really didn’t have a lot of board experience,” she recalls. “They were there trying to figure out how to organize this. The group met for probably a year and a half to two years and in August 2000 the old shelter opened.
Before that, Thaut said the town had a pound that was once the high school body shop where the animals were housed.
Although inexperienced, Thaut said the first group of council members were active in the community and striving to make the human society a success.
“The board was a very active board and not one where they would show up every quarter and automatically approve of what somebody told you to do,” she said. “It was a lot of hard-working people. Those early days were tough and we went as far as we could to keep the doors open. There were animals to take care of. We had a shelter manager and volunteers who put their hearts into making it work.
The shelter continued to see the number of adoptions increase, eventually overtaking the space.
Rypma, who joined the board 14 years ago and served as its chair for about a decade, said fundraising to build a new facility west of Beatrice near Southeast Community College is the achievement of which he is most proud.
“We were fundraising for a brand new, much needed shelter,” he said. “We needed more capacity and a better facility. I’m very proud of the community that stepped up and raised funds to pay for the building when we moved in. This is an extremely positive statement for this community.
Thaut added that thanks to the support of the community and being the beneficiaries of the property of two sisters, the shelter was able to be paid for in full.
“Hal and I never thought we would see a new building in our lifetime,” she said. “It was always a dream to have a nice shelter because there were so many people in the old building that it was literally packed. A committee was formed and this building is fully paid for. It’s a true tribute to the people of this area.Communities of this size don’t have these kinds of facilities and people should be proud of that.
Rypma added that working with the board and workers at the shelter is what he will miss the most when he leaves his post.
“It was great to be able to work with a group of people who are truly committed to saving animal lives, and the most enjoyable thing was seeing how many animals we were able to save that wouldn’t have survived. otherwise,” he said. “It was a very pleasant project. It is very gratifying to see the happiness when people come to pick up their animal. We get a lot of messages after people have adopted them, showing how happy the animals and the families are. It’s just a very happy environment.
Adoption numbers have steadily increased over the years, and Beatrice’s shelter set a new record last year with nearly 1,200 pets adopted.
Rypma attributed much of the recent success to Beatrice Humane Society shelter director Carlee Fiddes.
“She came to us with so much experience, so much knowledge and she was well trained in shelter management,” he said. “It’s one of the best things that can happen to our shelter, to be able to bring her in and let her run the shelter for us.”
Fiddes returned the compliment, saying the Human Society wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work of longtime board members.
“It’s a huge improvement from when they started, that’s for sure,” she said. “To be able to continue to improve on the legacy they started is a huge accomplishment and I’m super excited to see what the future holds. They’ve done so much for this organization. To be able to grow from an organization that euthanized 70% of the animals to only 27 animals to be euthanized, it’s unbelievable All the work they have done, building this shelter, has prepared this community for a future that will save lives.