Humane Society hosts open house

A chorus of barks and meows greeted visitors at the Shelby County Humane Society March 27 as the shelter hosted its first community open house.

Throughout the day, Humane Society volunteers and staff gave tours of the shelter, hosted kids’ games, provided low-cost vaccination and microchip clinics and answered questions about the Shelby County shelter.

“The goal today was to give people information they may not know about the Humane Society,” said Jennifer Russo, the shelter’s director of development. “We wanted to get people to come in and learn about all the aspects of what we do here.”

The open house also featured pet adoptions, and many owners who previously adopted pets from the shelter brought their furry friends out to enjoy the day’s spring weather.

“We’ve already had one adoption today. Hopefully, we’ll have about 20 more today,” Russo laughed at about noon.

“A lot of people still view us in the traditional sense of just an animal shelter,” said Bob McArdle, a member of the Humane Society board of directors. “But we are really a complete pet resource center.”

As he led tours of the shelter, McArdle explained the Humane Society ensures each animal is healthy and non-aggressive before clearing them to be adopted.

In addition to the shelter’s holding areas for adoption-ready pets, the Humane Society also features separate rooms for kittens, puppies, animals recovering from illness and other special-needs animals. The Columbiana facility also has outdoor holding areas and a large field used to give dogs outdoor play time.

“We don’t just have kennels. We also have this fenced-in area out here for dogs to have play groups,” Russo said as she pointed to the outdoor field.

As dozens of visitors and their pets toured the facility and learned about the Humane Society, shelter officials touted one piece of advice above all others.

“If you get one message out of today, it’s to spay and neuter your pets,” McArdle said. “It costs us $2,700 a day to operate the Humane Society. That costs ultimately gets borne by the communities.

“Getting your pets spayed and neutered brings that cost down for everyone, and it helps reduce the amount of stray animals out there,” McArdle added. “Just getting that done will help a lot of the animal problems our communities are facing.”