By Riya Chinni
In December 2004, Rebecca Stevens’ life changed when her beloved dog, Maggie, suffered a slipped disc that severed her spinal cord and left her with paraplegia.
The Humane Society for Hamilton County had previously approached Stevens regarding employment, but it wasn’t until that night she knew she would quit her corporate job and join the nonprofit, since she could take Maggie to work and give her necessary care and attention.
Stevens said while Maggie’s accident led to her joining HSHC, it also set the tone for the organization’s mission to provide animals with a chance, regardless of disability, breed, age, or medical issues.
“Our philosophy is driven by the original no-kill mantra, which is that every animal gets a chance, regardless of whether they’re disabled, old, broken, not pretty, whatever special medical needs they have, it doesn’t matter,” said Stevens, HSHC president/CEO. “Every animal gets a chance. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, then we will get them there.”
The Humane Society for Hamilton County is an open-admission, no-kill facility that functions as animal control and a shelter for Hamilton County animals as well as transferred animals from across the U.S. Last year, the organization took in approximately 1,000 animals at risk for euthanasia from other shelters, primarily those who had special needs, advanced age, bonded pairs, bully-breed dogs or had medical emergencies. HSHC has a placement rate that tops 98 percent.
“We’re one of the very few open-admission shelters in the country that is no-kill, in the way we’re no-kill, and achieving a 98 percent-plus placement rate,” Stevens said.
HSHC receives approximately 20 percent of its funding from the county, which is used to cover basic shelter, food and care for seven days for all strays. The remainder of HSHC’s programs and activities, including Pets Healing Vets, the Survivorship Program providing emergency medical services to strays in their first seven days, and general care for animals is funded through individual donors and fundraising efforts, like the upcoming Woofstock 5K and dog walk.
Through approximately 60 employees and 400 active volunteers, HSHC houses and looks after 500 to 600 animals in the shelter. Like many other shelters, HSHC is operating near capacity.
HSHC’s most urgent needs include more foster homes, Woofstock participation sign-ups and a veterinarian medical director to enhance medical services. Additionally, Stevens strongly encourages families to adopt from shelters.
“In this building right now is your Maggie. Imagine, that could be such a life-changing moment for them and for you,” Stevens said. “Somewhere right now, you’re going to go look and your Maggie is waiting for you.”
The Woofstock 5K and dog walk fundraiser is set for 8 a.m. Aug. 13 at Four Day Ray Brewing, 11671 Lantern Rd. in Fishers. Entree fee is $55.
All participants will receive a free drink ticket to redeem at Four Day Ray the day of the event. A post-race party with vendor tables will run through noon. Proceeds benefit the HSHC Survivor Program.
Learn more at hamiltonhumane.com/programs/events/woofstock.
HSHC BY THE NUMBERS
- 4,272 – Animals received in 2021
- 98 – HSHC placement rate percentage in 2021
- 1,093 – Hoosier animal saved from other Indiana shelters and non-Hamilton County residents
- 469 – Number of lost pets reunited with families in 2021