Harlingen officials, Humane Society spar over alleged misuse of taxpayer money

By: Jose De Leon III

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The Rio Grande Valley Humane Society responded to social media allegations brought on against them by the city of Harlingen.

In a Friday evening social media post, the city of Harlingen accused the shelter — who they have a contract with — of spreading misinformation and misusing taxpayer money.

RELATED STORY: Harlingen extends contract with RGV Humane Society

City officials began questioning the shelter’s finances after they previously provided $400,000 to the shelter for “lifesaving spay and neuter surgeries or for other purposes,” the release stated.

In its social media post, the city of Harlingen claimed the humane society was rejecting cats and dogs to retain its “no kill status,” and that the shelter reported spending nearly $955,000 on payroll and labor expenses in the previous fiscal year.


In an “incomplete” report, the shelter stated they spent a total of over $48,000 on spay and neuter services, dog and cat food, microchipping and other services during that same period, the city of Harlingen added.

“Due to the lack of transparency and financial integrity, the city of Harlingen has decided not to grant the RGV Humane Society the additional $400,000 requested this year,” the news release from the city of Harlingen stated. “Instead, the city seeks an honest, transparent, and compassionate organization dedicated to saving animals in Harlingen. This entails a robust volunteer program, comprehensive spay and neuter services, and an inclusive policy for fostering and adopting all types of cats and dogs.”

A spokesperson for the city of Harlingen told Channel 5 News that the shelter stopped accepting animals from the city as of 5 p.m. Friday.

RGV Humane Society interim Executive Director Melissa Saldaña provided a statement to Channel 5 News that accused the allegations from the city of being “categorically false.”


“We have been completely transparent that the financials provided are a reflection of both shelters we run combined… The cost of vet time, staffing, and supplies is not cheap. Funding from the city could not cover the spay/neuter services we provide,” the release stated. “The Humane Society will remain committed to the community in saving lives and seeking out partnerships that share the same common goal to improve the overall welfare of animals in our community.”

The allegations come as the shelter reports that their Mission and Harlingen locations are over capacity with over 420 cats and dogs, according to a Facebook post.



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