The Steven J Cage Foundation Animal Wellness Center, the new home for the Humane Society for Hamilton County at 10501 Hague Road, is so new that on April 5 it did not yet appear on Google Maps. The facility appeared as a dirt-brown blotch on the satellite picture. But that will soon change.
The HSHC has moved from a 7,000-square-foot facility into a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building that Humane Society for Hamilton County President and CEO, Rebecca Stevens calls the of the top three in the nation – and possibly the best in the nation.
One of the new amenities is a kitchen, which features a restaurant-grade dishwasher. Before, volunteers had to wash all the dishes by hand. It also has state-of-the-art ventilation systems in each of the feline kennels that keep the air circulating to reduce the risk of the spread of disease, along with three washers and three dryers that tremendously enhance efficiency.
“Now, it takes just 40 minutes for towels and everything to get dry when before it used to take two runs for anything to dry,” said Mary Roney, a HSHC volunteer from Westfield.
Other features include an expanded reception area, expanded overall capacity and more spacious kennels. Roughly 200 animals call the new facility home, the majority of which are cats. The goal for staff is for the animals’ stays to be brief.
“If it is a long wait (for adoption), at least it’s in a facility that’s state-of-the-art,” said Williams, a Fishers resident. “This place represents, for me, personally, over a decade of blood, sweat and tears trying to create a place where animals can go temporarily that celebrates their life and would be a destination for families to want to visit because it’s full of life and happiness.”
When Stevens joined the HSHC 16 years ago, its facility was on the campus of the Hamilton County Jail and had been in Noblesville, at various locations, for 36 years. Stevens often thought about what she would add if she could help design her own animal welfare facility, such as exercise space and a fully developed veterinary clinic with its own operating table and X-ray machine.
The new facility has each of those amenities.
“This place is probably going to be my legacy and why I was put on this earth, to create a brighter future for these animals,” Stevens said. “Not just in Hamilton County, but from outside this county, too.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the HSHC has seen a nearly 400 percent increase in adoptions. But there has already been an uptick in surrenders, when people drop off an animal at the facility. Many cases are people discovering that the burden of owning an animal was more than they bargained for, or various forms of anxiety. The Humane Society’s initial effort is to encourage and try to help the pet owner retain their animal.
“We go to the ends of the earth to help pet owners keep their animals,” said Williams.
But animals are always arriving. It is the hope of Stevens that all of Hamilton County might visit and see the new place, and maybe discover a new member to the family in the process.
“The Pet Parade to the new Humane Society”
Cutline: CIF-Cover-0413-the cats meow-9 “One of the vehicles participating in the Pet Parade to the Humane Society for Hamilton County’s new facility.
The journey from the past to the future went “practically perfectly,” according to Max Williams, the director of marketing for the Humane Society of Hamilton County. And it only lasted about half an hour.
Dozens of volunteers, with the help of their official moving partners, Two Men and a Truck, and the Fishers Police Dept. bundled up the sheltered animals from the old facility in Noblesville before heading to the new facility at 10501 Hague Rd. in Fishers.
Noblesville had been the home for the Humane Society for 36 years.
“We will certainly miss our Noblesville neighbors,” said Rebecca Stevens, president and CEO of the HSHC. “But I can tell you our team is looking forward to the desperately needed space and resources that will now be available in this remarkable facility that is undoubtedly one of the best in the country.”