Dec. 28, 2004 The Humane Society of St. Thomas this week surpassed an enrollment challenge issued in 2002 to grow its membership from 167 to 1,000 by 2004.
Knight Quality Stations owner and philanthropist Randolph Knight pledged $500,000 in matching funds to go toward completion of the society's new Animal Care Campus off the Weymouth Rhymer Highway across from Marketplace East, upon reaching the enrollment goal.
Knight said Tuesday, "I am ecstatic. I am so proud of the board's hard work in recruiting the new members. And I am issuing a new challenge to continue their membership drive and double this number to 2,000."
Knight wouldn't say how much his next pledge will be.
Joe Elmore, Humane Society executive director, said, "The community opened its heart and responded to this call to action. Not only did people join, they brought in friends, relatives and employers to help us surpass this goal." The membership now stands at 1,021, with an additional 48 junior members, Elmore said in a release.
Joe Aubain, Humane Society board president, said Tuesday, "Meeting this challenge gives us the momentum to enter 2005 with a solid constituency of supporters to tackle our goals." These include, not only building the new campus, Aubain said, "but getting a stronger anti-animal cruelty law passed."
The Legislature passed the animal anti-cruelty bill unanimously in September, but Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, in what came as a shock to animal activists and others, vetoed the bill in its entirety in December. A move to convene another session of the 25th Legislature to override that veto, and others, failed. The bill now will have to await re-introduction in the 26th Legislature.
Knight also expressed his keen disappointment in the governor's veto of the animal bill. "Now, we will have to start the whole process all over," he lamented. Knight has worked closely with animal activists on all three islands to see the bill's passage. (See "News Brief: Governor Vetoes Animal Cruelty Bill."
The site for the new campus is on land given to the society by the Lockhart family. The property in Estate Nadir, where the current shelter has sat for decades, was condemned by the V.I. government in 2001 to make way for a federal highway project to link up stretches of road to what is commonly known as "the bridge to nowhere." The move forced the Humane Society to begin the search for a new home. The Lockhart family stepped up with the donation of the property. (See "Ground Clearing Begins for Animal Care Campus.")
Elmore said the property is in the re-zoning process now, and has yet to go through the Legislature for approval, but, he said, "We are shooting for a ground-breaking before the "Doggie Ball," which is on Feb. 12."
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