The Humane Society of Hobart (HSH) has undergone a radical transformation in the past few years. As recently as 2017, the open-intake shelter in Lake County had an overall live release of just 67% ( for cats it was an even more abysmal 42%!)
In an inspiring story of growth, community support and outreach to those in need, HSH improved their live release rate to an astounding 98.9% in 2019 and has maintained a no-kill status ever since! They’re even reaching out to other shelters to provide help.
Hitting the Ground Running: Cats
Executive Director, Jenny Weber, arrived at HSH in 2018 and set in motion a series of intake-prevention and community-supporting programs that elevated HSH to a highly successful, open-intake, no-kill shelter.
The first course of action was stopping the in-flow of cats by creating a TNVR (Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return) Program to stabilize a quickly growing outdoor cat population. The Cattin’ Around Town Program provides TNVR services to residents of Hobart, Lake Station, New Chicago, Crown Point, Lowell, and Hebron. The program has drastically decreased the shelters’ intake of cats, leading to a dramatic increase in their live-release rate. Much of the success of the program is attributed to community outreach.
“If you had 1,000 elephants running down your back alley, you might notice there’s a problem,” said Weber. “With cats, that’s not always the case. By reaching out to the community to let them know there’s a safe and humane way to help these cats, we’re able to stabilize populations before they reach new levels.”
Meeting Pet Families Where They Need It Most: H.O.P.E
The H.O.P.E program (Helping Our Pets’ Effect) is HSH’s “boots on the ground, grass-roots program” that helps families in need. The project connects pet owners to low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries (ike the Pet Friendly Services’ Spay-Neuter Assistance Program), pet food pantries, crisis fostering and human service referral through the United Way.
“It’s far easier to provide a bag of dog food than to shelter a surrendered dog,” said Weber, “and it’s far more cost-effective to provide a low-cost spay/neuter than to care for a litter of kittens. When a family is struggling, so too is the pet. Treating the entire family unit when there is a crisis is integral to keeping pet families together and pets out of the shelter system.”
Per their website, HSH estimates the cost to care for just one animal is $159 for the first hour in the shelter. Compared with their average spay/neuter cost of $80 (which can prevent entire litters of kittens or puppies), and it’s clear that the cost savings are staggering. With a spay/neuter voucher from Pet Friendly Services, that cost is eliminated entirely. Spay/Neuter saves lives AND money!
Meeting The Need – And Beyond!
Once in a position where they couldn’t even meet their own needs, Humane Society of Hobart is now helping other Indiana shelters. So far in 2022, they have pulled more than 800 dogs from shelters that were full and where the dogs were at-risk of euthanasia. They did all of this while maintaining their open-intake and no-kill status!
“It comes down the culture and team dynamics you create. Our team does the unthinkable! Once we had the community on our side, there was no going back. Change is possible, and we can truly make a difference in helping these animals.”