Pa. animal shelters gain windfall in unclaimed funds

Posted: October 13, 2012

A Delaware County animal shelter received an unexpected windfall Thursday, courtesy of the state Treasury.

Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals on Upper Gulph Road in Radnor Township found out it is owed $35,000 in unclaimed stock.

"It is a complete windfall, a glorious windfall," shelter manager Heather Hennessey said, adding that the money would be earmarked for the general fund. "We have a big gap in our day-to-day expenses."

It is not the only shelter that has money coming its way. About $100,000 of the $1.9 billion in the Treasury Department's Unclaimed Property Program belongs to 12 organizations statewide that deal with animals.

The Old York Road Dog Training Club in Bucks County, Forgotten Felines in Lehigh County, and Philadelphia's Paw Awhile Grooming also have unclaimed funds, according to the state website.

Francisvale, a 103-year-old nonprofit on 16 acres, is a no-kill shelter and home to about 35 dogs and 62 cats.

Hennessey said Treasury officials contacted the shelter a few months ago.

"It was something that was unknown to all of us," said Jodi Button, executive director of the shelter. The money was a gift in the form of stock. "We were kind of shocked. It is a particularly nice sum."

It is not uncommon for organizations to be unaware of unclaimed money, said Michael Smith, spokesman for the Treasury Department. "They may not have been notified."

The shelter and other animal organizations have been notified by the state as part of its ongoing outreach to those owed money, Smith said. The state usually advertises in newspapers and sends letters to notify those with unclaimed property.

"A lot of property will never be claimed," Smith said.

The state ends up with all unclaimed properties, such as money lost in record-keeping or left in safe-deposit boxes.

Organizations that are owed unclaimed property simply may not have been notified.

Smith did not know why the shelter's property went unclaimed.

Between July 2011 and June 2012, the state collected $234.6 million in property and returned $111.2 million, Smith said.

"We have estimated people have a 1-in-10 chance of finding property," Smith said. The average claim is about $1,200, he said.

To check for unclaimed property, call 800-222-2046 or search http://www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed/search.html.


Contact Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149, mschaefer@phillynews.com, or follow @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

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