Humane society is in need of a rescue

Decreasing donations and growing service demands put agency in a financial pinch

Hinsdale Humane Society is facing a financial emergency, agency officials say, so much so that an “SOS” has gone out to enlist the public’s help.

The nonprofit organization, which will mark 70 years in the community next year, recently launched its Save Our Shelter campaign to boost diminishing donations as the shelter faces acute overcrowding due to an exploding stray population.

JoAnn McGuinness, HHS board member and treasurer, said the organization is trying to get the word out that donations are vital to its survival.

“A lot of people think that because we are the Hinsdale Humane Society that we must have a lot of money and some large endowment,” McGuinness said. “That’s simply not the case. We take every penny and we put it into our animals to try and save as many animals as we possibly can.”

Moving from the center of the village four years ago into the 16,000-square-foot Pet Rescue and Resource Center on the village’s far north end — a nearly $5 million investment — didn’t help visibility, she acknowledged.

“We’ve become a bit out of sight, out of mind,” McGuinness said. “We realized we needed to really reconnect with the community, especially because during COVID we couldn’t do any events.”

She said the goal is to raise $1 million, about two-thirds of a typical year’s donation amount. Jacki Rossi, HHS executive director, noted that COVID hit less than a year and a half after the new center opened, severely restricting public access and precluding revenue-generating rentals for corporate events and birthday parties as well as the highly popular youth camps and humane education programs.

“In the meantime, all the needs — animal intake and the crisis in animal welfare — that all has just kept on an upward trajectory,” Rossi said.

The shelter also takes in stray animals from 13 village and police departments, with a waiting list of six towns wanting to be included.

“We have to balance our stray intake and see what our capacity level is before we add another one.” Rossi said.

McGuinness said purchasing the new facility was a sound move, as it enables the organization to provide a full range of medical services, like the nearly 3,000 spay/neuter surgeries this year for both HHS adoptable pets and more than a dozen other rescue groups. Because spaying/neutering was not considered essential during the pandemic, the result has been litters of puppies and kittens regularly showing up on the shelter’s doorstep.

“We’re doing (the surgeries) at low cost, so that’s bringing down the stray population,” McGuinness said, acknowledging that the new shelter may falsely project fiscal health. “Having this great new facility allows us to save a lot of animals, but it also continues to feed that perception that we must have a lot of money.”

Rossi said her conversations with past supporters revealed that gap between perception and reality.

“We’re not on people’s radars like we once were and how we need to be,” she commented, adding that she also hears a desire to help. “We need to revisit how we ask for support.”

McGuinness said that support is essential to HHS’ survival.

“It isn’t just about the adoptions, it’s about really being able to be a pillar in the community,” McGuinness said.

Visit for more information.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean