Exterior view of The Brown County Humane Society. It doesn’t look like much, but inside there are several animals waiting to meet their new family.
Jake relaxes in his hammock. Shelter staff tries to make the animals as comfortable as possible.
Volunteer Program Manager, Erika Imhoof, tries to figure out where to put the new cats they recently received. A group of cats was transferred here from Florida before the hurricane and have cleared all their medical tests and are ready to be adopted.
Volunteer Program Manager, Erika Imhoof, walks down the row of kennels passing out treats.
Lola waits her turn for a treat. The dogs have kennels with an indoor and outdoor room all to themselves.
Leashes hang in the back room. The shelter collects supplies through donations.
All the clean bowls sit on a shelf until they are ready to be used. Many of the volunteers come in to help wash supplies and do laundry.
Shelter Manager, Caity Robertson, works at her small desk. The shelter only has one office that everyone shares and is also used for introductions with a family and a new pet.
Staff member Brian Blessing puts a new collar on Madison before she goes home with her new family.
Madison and her new family pose for a picture for The Brown County Humane Society’s website. Erika Imhoof (left) is in charge of marketing for the shelter.
From the road, the Brown County Human Society doesn’t look like much, but inside you’ll find a bundle of adoptable cats and dogs and a friendly staff there to help them find their forever home. The Brown County Humane Society is a non-profit animal shelter that gets most of its funding through donations. They pride themselves on having one of the highest “save rates” in the state, even for being such a small organization. A save rate represents the number of animals that leave the shelter alive, either by being adopted, returned to their owner, or being transferred to another shelter for adoption. The Brown County Humane Society has a save rate of 97.5%, higher than the national average which is 60%.
The Brown County Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, which means they will not euthanize an animal unless it is clearly suffering and losing quality of life. Additionally, they consider themselves an open admissions shelter which means they will take every animal, no questions asked. The shelter also has a contract with the county’s animal control and takes in any animal that is picked up by the sheriff’s department. This can make things a little difficult when the shelter gets full. There is only so much room to put the animals but the staff makes it work and will never turn away an animal. Sometimes this means animals have to go to foster homes or other shelters elsewhere in the state.
“We’re so full right now it’s like a constant game of Tetris of where to put new cats” Caity Robertson, Shelter Manager
Because of the shelter’s small size and location, they don’t get a lot of walk-in traffic coming to adopt their animals. Instead, they rely heavily on social media. They have a marketing team that includes people designated to run various social media accounts, people that make and pass out flyers, and those who help organize bigger events. They also develop an individual marketing plan for an animal that has been in the shelter for a long time. This may include creating a video of the animal in a home to show how they would act or posting them on a website called PetFinder where people from all over the country can view their profile.
The Brown County Humane Society has a small staff and a few experienced volunteers that are there everyday. Keeping the staff small strengthens the bonds the animals have with people, because some of them can be very shy. Erika Imhoof is the Volunteer Program Manager at the shelter and explains that although there may not be a lot of opportunities available for volunteering directly with the animals, there are still plenty of ways to help. Some of the jobs volunteers can help with are working in the office and with the marketing team, doing laundry and other cleaning around the shelter, and helping with some of the bigger adoption events.
“Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! Lots of cleaning to do here,” says Erika Imhoof
The shelter is also heavily involved in the community. They provide a program called SPOT, which stands for Serving Pets Outreach Program. SPOT provides low-cost services like spay and neuter procedures for animals in the Brown County community. Imhoof says that this program has helped reduce the shelter’s intake rate by 57%. The shelter helps supply families in need with pet food. Shelter staff also plans educational outreach programs for the community.
It is important to remember places like The Brown County Humane Society when bringing a new member of the family home. Animal shelters are full of amazing cats and dogs just waiting to go home. At The Brown County Humane Society, the staff likes to make sure that every animal being adopted will be a perfect fit for the family and vise versa. They spend time educating the new pet parents about their animals and try to find the best fit for both the humans and the animals.
The Brown County Humane Society is making big things happen in their small space. Just like their motto says: “Little shelter, big results”.