DERRY — Local volunteers were saddened but not completely surprised by the demise of the Greater Derry Humane Society.
The group’s board of directors voted last week to disband the all-volunteer organization after helping animals for 27 years.
Volunteer Merlye Zusman has adopted pets through the society and also offered a foster home to animals waiting to be adopted.
“It’s a sad turn of events, for sure, but understandable given the makeup of the organization to date as all-volunteer,” she said.
Zusman said since Derry did not have a shelter of its own it was often inconvenient for people who wanted to give up animals or adopt a pet. The nearest shelters are in Manchester and Bedford.
A dire call went out earlier this month for new volunteers to keep the group going, but there wasn’t enough of a response to breathe life into the society.
“I’m not hopeful,” organizer and co-president Barbara McCarthy said earlier this month. “I think it’s too late.”
McCarthy cited health problems and the lack of new volunteers as reasons the group can’t continue.
The nonprofit, all-volunteer organization offered not only foster homes and adoption services, but also education programs in local schools, dog obedience classes, pet therapy in local nursing homes and other community outreach programs.
The group had no separate shelter for animals.
Even though volunteers knew the group was struggling, some hoped it might survive.
Eleanor Camirand served the group for many years. She called the volunteers a “rare breed” who cared for animals in their homes while they waited to be adopted.
“No institutions, no lonely nights in dark kennels,” Camirand said.
A last-ditch effort to get the word out for more help proved futile.
“Everybody was, like, in shock,” Paula Dunlavey said, after directors voted to disband. “We knew it (might be coming) but it was still sad to see it come and go.”