PITTSFIELD -- At least two animal advocacy agencies have been set back following a rash of stolen donation canisters over the last two months that serve as a vital source of their operating funds.
The Stockbridge Police Department, along with other police departments countywide, have been contacted about donation cans that have been stolen from store counters.
Yvonne Borsody, the executive director of Berkshire Animal D.R.E.A.M.S., which caters to feral cats, said that the change left in the canisters over the course of a year provides about 8 to 10 percent of its approximately $80,000 annual operating budget.
"It's really frustrating to work so hard, to have our volunteers helping so hard, to have people putting their change in jars to help cats with no one to help them. [It's] not for someone to go out and take it," said Borsody, who estimated that several hundred dollars might have been stolen in the heists.
In the last two months, Borsody said D.R.E.A.M.S. has had about 20 collection canisters stolen, including another possible missing canister from Dalton Avenue Variety in Pittsfield on Monday.
Berkshire Humane Society Executive Director John Perreault estimated that eight to 10 of his organization's collection canisters have been stolen in the last two months.
"It's an important source of income and everybody who puts in change does make a difference," Perreault said.
Borsody said her organziation has had collection canisters stolen in Great Barrington, Lenox, Pittsfield and Stock bridge. Perreault said the Humane Society has lost canisters in Lenox, Pittsfield and Great Barrington.
D.R.E.A.M.S. aims to im prove the lives and promote the humane care and acceptance of feral cats throughout Berkshire Coun ty. The nonprofit agency is one of the few that goes out to find feral cats and traps and neuters them, Borsody said.
Operating on a slim budget, every penny counts, she said.
"This sudden increase [of missing canisters] at locations that used to be outstanding [for us], there is definitely something going on," Borsody said.
Despite increasing the number of times a week volunteers collect funds and warning store owners, Borsody said the thefts have persisted.
On Monday, Saurin Shah, owner of Dalton Avenue Variety, said that it was possible that someone might have stolen a collection jar at his shop. An employee recalled seeing the collection jar "five or six days ago," but then it was gone.
"The way it was located, you would have to make interaction with somebody," Shah said. "You couldn't just grab it and walk out."