DERRY — The Greater Derry Humane Society has called it quits.
The group’s board of directors voted late last week to disband the local volunteer organization after helping animals for 27 years.
An urgent call for volunteers went out earlier this month, but the response wasn’t enough to keep the group going.
“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 a lack of new volunteers as reasons the group couldn’t continue.
“We are saddened to announce the closing of GDHS Inc.,” the website said Friday. “We appreciate and are very thankful for all of the support we have received from the community over the 25-plus years we have been in operation.”
Even though volunteers knew the group was struggling, some thought it might survive.
A last-ditch effort to get the word out for more volunteers and 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.”
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 area nursing homes and other community outreach programs.
The group had no physical shelter for animals.
Dunlavey and her husband Marty volunteered for about three years and served on the board. The couple participated in many efforts, including pet therapy and community television programming.
Marty Dunlavey served as the group’s vice president. He said five of the nine board members attended last week’s meeting and voted to disband, enough for the vote to close to pass. That included his own vote and that of his wife.
Dunlavey said everything will now end, including the popular dog obedience classes and pet therapy services to area nursing homes.
Volunteers will continue to try to find homes for any remaining pets listed as available for adoption online.
Right now, there are three dogs up for adoption on the group’s website. Cats are handled through a joint mission with Salem-based Feline Friends, another all-volunteer, no-shelter organization.
Volunteer Merlye Zusman adopted pets through the local humane society and also served as 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 Bedord.
“Animal control doesn’t find new homes for abandoned pets,” she said. “What is left for the citizens of Derry and their pets?”
With the group disbanding, legal issues will need to be tied up, Dunlavey said. Remaining funds will be distributed to other humane societies and rescue groups in the region.
Earlier this month, McCarthy reported approximately $30,000 still in the bank.
Marty Dunlavey said there still might be a way to keep an animal rescue group alive if enough people step forward.
“We might try to restart it,” he said. “Paula and I are willing to try.”
Anyone interested in meeting with other Humane Society volunteers can attend a meeting Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway.