Humane Society provides valuable service locally

Daily Journal

A nonprofit organization that helps many of the county’s four-legged residents desperately needs help from the two-legged kind.

Several board members for the Humane Society of Johnson County have retired recently; the list of volunteers and foster homes for dogs has dwindled; and costs for pet food, cleaning supplies and utilities for the office and shelter are depleting funds. Donations and money from fundraisers haven’t been able to keep up, and the organization is in danger of closing.

The Humane Society is separate from the county-run animal control. While it offers some adoption services for cats and dogs, the main programs focus on helping pet owners take care of their animals. Major programs run by the Humane Society include a low-cost spay and neuter program, pet food pantry where low-income residents can get free pet food, vet assistance for people who can’t afford a pet’s medical bills and a feral cat control program.

The Humane Society has been able to give more than 40,000 pounds of free pet food to pet owners in need, while the program to spay or neuter feral cats has helped prevent more than 300 cats at animal control from being euthanized due to overcrowding. Unlike animal control, which is run by the county government, the Humane Society is a nonprofit organization that is funded by grants and donations.

The organization operates on about $150,000 per year.

Humane Society president Janet Gorrell said, “We offer a lot to the community, and we need to get more people involved and get more people helping out. If things continue on the path that they’re on and if we don’t grow, that is true, we could have to close down by May.”

Johnson County Animal Control director Michael Delp said the Humane Society has helped by pulling cats and dogs into its foster program when the shelter is overcrowded and working to get those pets adopted, and the feral cat program has significantly reduced the amount of stray cats running around the county.

That program itself has helped significantly reduce the amount of cats that need to be put to sleep, and in May the animal control center didn’t have to euthanize a single cat for the first time in 10 years. The animal control center gets calls almost daily from people looking for help getting food for their pets, so the pantry has enabled those owners to keep their animals at home and keep them safe and healthy, Delp said.

“The feral cat program has been huge, and they’ve been just a driving force in a sense of keeping this going,” Delp said. “It’s helping us out in that area, and they have opportunities for the public available if they want to get involved in animal welfare.”

The Humane Society needs helps in three ways: more donations, new volunteers and new board members.

The organization offers a solid complement to the taxpayer-funded animal control office. By supporting the organization, the public helps solve a local problem and helps hold down the need for increased taxpayer support.

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The Johnson County Humane Society needs donations and volunteers.

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By helping the organization, the public reduces some of the pressure on the taxpayer-funded animal control office.

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Residents who want to volunteer, donate or serve as a board member for the Humane Society of Johnson County can call 535-6626.