Time to woof it up!

Humane society marks 70 years in Hinsdale community with anniversary gala

In 1953, six Hinsdale women, appalled that the local dog pound had no hot water and only one light dangling from the ceiling, took it upon themselves to provide a safer and more sanitary pound while also educating the public in the proper training and handling of animals.

That caring act was the start of the Hinsdale Humane Society, which today houses almost 200 adoptable dogs and cats in the modern - and well-lighted - Tuthill Family Pet Rescue & Resource Center at 21 Salt Creek Lane.

"We're here continuing the fight to advocate, educate and adopt out pets. We're here for the homeless pets who need us to be their voice and protectors," said Jacki Rossi, HHS executive director.

To both celebrate and help sustain that legacy, HHS will hold a 70th Anniversary Gala fundraiser from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, at The Community House, 415 W. Eighth St. Guests will be treated to dinner and dessert, wine and beer, live music and dancing as well as both silent and live auctions. People also can purchase admission to the Top Dog & Cool Cat VIP Experience, which begins at 5:30 p.m. and offers early access to the event with a jazz band, appetizers and an open bar on a private patio.

Rossi said the theme is Bridge to the Future, a vision for providing even more community resource programs that help people with the necessities required for taking care of an animal.

"We are here for the communities we serve, the students, seniors, veterans, patients and health care workers who receive pet therapy from us," she said. "In addition, we serve the youth who learn in our humane education programs, the pet families bonding in our training classes, and the friends and neighbors receiving help like medical care and pet food from the community resources we provide. We work to help keep pets in their loving homes."

Samantha Cheatham, animal care and intake director and 22-year staff member, said the last several years have stretched the organization's ability to meet demands, first due to funding challenges as a result of COVID and now the subsequent overpopulation of animals due to the lack of spaying and neutering during the pandemic.

"Over 2 million animals were not spayed and neutered on top of regular numbers that we would have," Cheatham said.

Rossi said the shelter has capacity for about 180 animals. In recent months they've pushed the population as high as 300.

"If you run with that many animals, the whole structure collapses," she remarked. "We had to step back, and we went on a hold where we weren't pulling as many animals so we could work on getting more adopted out."

"We used to have to go looking for animals because we would have such few around here locally," Cheatham added. "Now it's much different."

The rescue and resource center, which HHS moved into five years ago, allows the agency to provide more medical care with a staff veterinarian. Free microchip and rabies clinics in the community help deliver services to those who might not be able to get to the facility.

"I feel like we've worked really hard to be out more in the community helping people," Rossi said.

"All those little things that help owners keep their pets in their home," Cheatham said. "It's been a year of being creative in how we can help the most animals and people."

An S.O.S. campaign at the end of 2022 helped HHS end its fiscal year in the black, Rossi said, But with the animal overpopulation showing no signs of abating and costs going up for just about everything, the public's support is needed more than ever.

"So we can be here to celebrate 75!" Cheatham remarked. "We need to be here to keep supporting the animals and the community around us."

She believes those industrious and heart-led women seven decades ago would be pleased at how their effort has evolved.

"I think they would be really proud of us," Cheatham said. "The little old shack that could is now this big building."

Rossi said the spirit it the same.

"Why we do this is why they did it 70 years ago - to care for these animals," she said

Tickets are available at http://www.hinsdalehumanesociety.org. Ticket sales end Sept. 18, and the early bird ticket price of $250 is available only through today, Sept. 7. Registration for the Top Dog & Cool Cat VIP Experience is an additional $100. Visitors to the website also can buy a$100 raffle ticket online for a chance to win a luxurious weekend at Kohler Spa in Wisconsin plus a $500 gift card ­- and only 100 tickets will be sold.

The event is for ages 21 and up.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean