By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The end of one era may breathe new life into another as local volunteers try to start a new animal humane group in the area.
The Greater Derry Humane Society’s board of directors voted earlier this summer to disband the all-volunteer organization after serving animals in need for 27 years.
There may still be hope as some try to start another group to carry on the mission.
Original Humane Society volunteers met with new faces last week to see what kind of interest there was in starting up another animal group in town.
It’s a cause many want to keep going.
“But it won’t continue as it was,” volunteer Paula Dunlavey said, “we would have to start all over at the drawing board.”
That’s because the original nonprofit group is set to be officially dissolved. As of last week, the state still reported the original Humane Society as an active nonprofit because the official paperwork had not been filed yet.
Former executive director Barbara McCarthy said earlier this year that upward of $30,000 remained in the organization’s account.
If and when the group’s official status is dissolved, that money would go to support other rescue organizations in the area, including Salem-based Feline Friends.
The original group 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.
There was no physical shelter for animals.
Even though volunteers knew the group was struggling, some hoped it might survive.
“Everybody was, like, in shock,” Dunlavey said, after directors voted to disband. “We knew it (might be coming), but it was still sad to see it come and go.”
Longtime volunteer Ralph Zusman said it was hard to call it quits.
“Nobody wanted to see it fail,” he said. “We worried about the animals.”
The meeting last week brought out a lot of new faces and some familiar volunteers who still want to be involved.
“We wanted to see if there was enough interest in a core group to keep another humane society, or rescue group going for this area,” Dunlavey said. “There is plenty of need in this area.”
Starting over would mean establishing a new group, new name and filing for nonprofit status with the state.
There would be a lot of preliminary administration work to get done, including finding new ways to raise money and support.
Martha Adamovich of Salem Animal Rescue League offered her organization’s support if and when a new group tries to start in this area.
“Anyway we can join together, we are willing to open our doors,” Adamovich said.
Denise Gendreau is a longtime Greater Derry Humane Society volunteer and used to lead the group’s cat program. She said there are a lot of good ideas and new blood that could help a revived group move forward.
She said having a strong leader this time around would be best, someone with strong managerial skills.
Gendreau credited McCarthy for all her years of service.
“Barbara did a wonderful job for what she did,” she said.
Dunlavey said there is a lot of legal research that needs to happen up front if a new group is going to begin. Making sure there are enough key players in place is also necessary.
“We don’t expect any miracles right in the beginning,” she said. “We want to make sure we have a core group to continue.
That includes thinking outside the box, hearing new ideas and starting fresh.
The group will meet again on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Marion Gerrish Community Center.