Bill Templeman will step down in June after serving 14 years as the executive director of the Southern Oregon Humane Society.

Bill Templeman will step down in June after serving 14 years as the executive director of the Southern Oregon Humane Society.

Templeman, 53, said it is time for someone with "new energy and new leadership skills" to take the helm at the shelter.

"It's been a good, long time," Templeman said. "I've loved every minute of what we've done."

Templeman is credited with expanding the organization's rescue missions by encouraging the local nonprofit to accept dogs from other counties — even states — who are in dire straits, said Hillary Hulen, director of shelter operations.

"He's been an incredible voice for homeless animals," said Hulen.

Although the shelter always helps local animals first, their dog kennels would not be full were SOHS only accepting locally surrendered dogs. Templeman urged the organization to reach out to those counties where dogs were in imminent danger of euthanasia, Hulen said.

Today, 35 more out-of-area dogs will arrive on the Saving Train, a shuttle bus designed to transport pets safely, she added.

"He changed the direction we took in saving animals' lives," Hulen said.

Although the local and national economy continues to struggle, Templeman said the aging shelter on Table Rock Road has weathered the fiscal challenges of an aborted multi-million-dollar expansion effort in 2009.

The humane society purchased a 4.5-acre property on Crater Lake Avenue in July 2006 for $2.35 million to build a bigger center to spare more animals from euthanasia and to increase its adoption rate. Another $2.5 million was needed to build a campus-style shelter at the Crater Lake location, at the corner of Vilas Road and Highway 62.

But the grand plan to open a multimillion-dollar animal shelter fizzled in a dank economy, leaving the humane society struggling in debt while striving to maintain its mission of saving dogs and cats.

The Crater Lake Avenue property was resold in December 2009 for $1.5 million after the society failed to get a $2.5 million asking price. Society officials have stated they signed a non-disclosure statement with U.S. Bank to resolve the remaining $850,000 from the short sale.

Now the organization's funding stream is stable, and the shelter has increased its adoptions, Templeman said.

"The bad news is the world is still struggling," he said. "The good news is we've been able to be there."

Twenty people work for the organization, mostly in part-time positions. The society also draws from 320 volunteers who put in a combined 21,000 hours annually. Templeman said the board is interviewing candidates, but has not yet determined whether it will hire an interim or permanent executive director.

Templeman plans to remain in the Rogue Valley but does not yet know what his next venture will be "for the next 10 years or so," he said.

"I've loved saving the lives of animals and improving the lives of those who adopt them," Templeman said. "It's so heartwarming. It's going to be hard to replace that level of satisfaction."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.