Brother Wolf Animal Rescue plans to close its Asheville shelter and temporarily stop taking in animals later this year as it transitions to a new sanctuary it plans to build in Leicester, the organization’s director announced in an email to staff last week.
The announcement took some staff members by surprise. Some staff members will be laid off during the transition, according to the email. It also angered some supporters, who said they’ve been offering financial support to a shelter operation without knowing that the facility would be shuttered and sold to support the new sanctuary.
The news also has another local animal shelter, the Asheville Humane Society, bracing for an expected influx of animals in need when Brother Wolf stops taking them.
Denise Bitz, Brother Wolf’s executive director, wrote in a June 22 email that it will begin moving animals out of its adoption center on Glendale Avenue and into foster homes. The group is looking for a temporary building to house any animals that can’t be placed into foster or adoption, as well as provide office space for staff.
Bitz said Brother Wolfe will also place a temporary moratorium on animal intakes during the transition period. “Our priority during this time will be to get all our adoption center animals adopted into new homes or placed into foster,” she wrote. She added that the organization is working with a Realtor to sell the adoption center building, with plans to reinvest that money into the sanctuary.
“We must take advantage of this momentum now to build this amazing sanctuary so that we are not only a resource for the most ‘at risk’ animals in our region, but a world class facility
for our animals and our staff, as well as a place where people can come and learn all that we have learned together over the past 10 years to save animals,” Bitz wrote.
In June 2015, Brother Wolf announced plans to build a $4.9 million no-kill animal sanctuary on 82 acres of land that an anonymous donor purchased for the organization off North Turkey Creek Road in Leicester. The new sanctuary, which could hold up to 1,200 dogs and cats, would provide critical care for severely abused animals that require longer-term and specialized rehabilitation, Bitz said at the time. The project would include a veterinary clinic on site and take at least five years and built in phases. The first phase would include a dog village, pond and animal agility course, Bitz said.
No ground has been broken on the project.
Regarding the future of staff members, Bitz wrote that Brother Wolf would be “creating lots of new
opportunities for you at the new sanctuary which will not only give you a better working environment, but other opportunities to grow and move around within the organization.” Employees that are laid off will receive ample notice and may be eligible for unemployment benefits, she aded.
“Further, if you are laid off, you are assured first shot at any new sanctuary jobs as they become available,” Bitz wrote.