Our mission statement is as follows: “The mission of the Humane Society of Marathon County, Inc. is to relieve the suffering and abuse of animals and to foster an awareness of their importance in our community. We achieve this through leadership in compassionate care, placement, public education, humane services and example.”
Compassionate care is a very important piece to the puzzle that is animal sheltering. The work we do is hard; it’s physically and emotionally demanding. We get bitten, scratched, peed on, yelled at, criticized and overwhelmed. Yet, we do it all for the animals. We come back everyday and are willing to face whatever challenges the new day may bring because we care about the animals and we want to do right by them. What it all comes down to is that no matter how many bad days there are, the moment the scared dog lets you pet him or the senior aged cat finally comes out of her shell, that one moment is more powerful and encouraging than 1,000 bad days.
There are a number of ways we are looking to improve the compassionate care we provide at HSMC and there are ways that you can be involved, too!
We are currently going through the process of having a zoning ordinance on our property changed to allow us to install individual outdoor dog runs. All of the humane societies in the counties that border Marathon have outdoor facilities that allow for multiple dogs to be outside at once. We, residing in the biggest county in the state, would like to be an example of an ever-evolving shelter that is constantly adapting to meet and exceed the needs of the pets in our care. We currently have a large fenced in area behind our building that can be used to let one dog out at a time, or multiple dogs if they can get along in a play group (usually 2-3 dogs at a time with supervision). Our future plans would allow us to have our entire dog adoption room (30 kennels) outside at once! This means we can clean our kennel areas without the dogs being inside the building; this will reduce stress to the dogs in our care and improve processes and efficiency for staff which will in turn free up staff time for other important projects and programming! Our new outdoor runs will be covered to allow protection from the elements and will not be used as permanent housing for the dogs; no dogs would stay out overnight and this would not be an area that the public would enter for visits. We would also have the capability to give dangerous dogs or bite quarantine dogs time to be outside in a safe enclosure where they will not pose a risk to other animals or the public.
Another initiative we have started is providing music to all of our kennel areas. Studies have shown that different types of music reduce stress depending on the species. We put out a call for donated CD players and you guys came through! We have soothing music playing in four of our seven animal areas 24/7. We’ve already noticed a difference in our dog and cat areas that our guests seem to settle more quickly after visits and our human guests seem to enjoy it, too! We are still looking for extra CD players if you or someone you know has one they’d like to donate!
Next on our list of improvements is new kennels for our cat nursery! Our nursery gets a lot of use during the spring to winter months and we often times do not have enough space to accommodate all of the moms and kittens that come through our doors. Adding new kennels and more of them will allow us to properly house those that come through our doors and specialty cages will allow for more comfortable and compartmentalized housing for moms with litters. We plan to have cages specifically for housing litters with separate compartments for litter and food, as well as a shelf to allow mom to take a break if she needs one! Another fun feature? Cat portals! Cat portals are placed into the walls of two side by side kennels and are essentially a door that allows you to turn one kennel into two! Adding cat portals to our new nursery kennels will allow more socializing and play time to our adolescent felines who may have come in without their litter mates. The bonus about this feature? If we aren’t overfull on kittens, we can turn a regular kennel into a luxury suite by giving one cat the space usually used for two cats!
Along with improving our nursery space, we’re looking to improve our new arrival cat area as well. This is where a newly surrendered or stray cat will stay for an extended period of time until they are able to be moved into our adoption room (depends on space), adopted or reclaimed by their owner. Studies show that providing cats with a place to hide is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Along with a place to hide, it is best to minimize handling of cats during the first few days of their stay to allow them to adjust to their new surroundings, while keeping items in their kennel familiar and with their scent on it. We are looking to purchase Kitty Kasas or bedrooms for each one of our new arrival cages! Kitty Kasas are brightly colored, plastic enclosures perfect for hiding in or climbing on that will provide our feline guests with the privacy they need. Having one Kitty Kasa per kennel means that Kasa can stay with the kitty until the kitty leaves the room, which means their scent stays on it and helps reduce stress. The best thing about Kitty Kasas? They can be sanitized in between cats or in the event of an accident. If you’re interested in donating a Kitty Kasa, we are looking to make a bulk order and would love to add your $40.00 donation to our total! Go to the website, Kitty Kasas to find out more about this great company and their awesome products.
We’ve also made some changes to our volunteer program, which will be re-opening soon, that have really allowed us to focus our volunteers and their time on helping the animals. We want you to be an advocate for the critters, just as we are. We’re open to new fundraising ideas and input from the community as to how we can improve the care we provide to the animals, the presence we have in the community and how to be the best shelter we can be.
We invite you to come in and see the changes, share your ideas and be a part of this process. If you’d like to donate toward one of the projects we have in the works, we’d be so grateful. After all, we can’t do any of this without you.