As a part of our commitment to giving back to rescue groups, we select two organizations every month to be the recipient of our Buy One Give One (BOGO) program.Our BOGO program is based on online sales from two of our leash and collar collections (I Am A Rescue or Support The Underdog). For every collar/leash purchased from these collections, one is donated to a rescue group.
We are thrilled to announce that the Central Missouri Humane Society is our BOGO recipient from July 15-July 31. The CMHS is has been dedicated to spay/neuter programs in their community and you might have seen their wildly successful Reading to Dogs program on social media. We asked the assistant director of the CMHS, Michelle Casey, a few questions to get our supporters familiar with the impact CMHS is making on the animals and people in their community.
PBC: What is your organization's story?
Michelle: The Columbia Humane Society was formed in 1943 to provide shelter and care for Columbia's abandoned animals. The organization has grown into today's Central Missouri Humane Society, a regional animal welfare agency caring for thousands of animals annually and providing veterinary services for low-income pet owners. Last year, our organization took in 3,143 homeless animals. Our primary goal is to find caring, lasting homes for every adoptable animal; we place more animals than any other humane organization in central Missouri. For the past year and a half, we have maintained a 92% live-release rate for all animals coming into our shelter. That's gold standard for shelters! We believe the most important way to reduce the unwanted pet population is through spay/neuter. Last year, our veterinary facility (that primarily serves economically disadvantaged members of the community) spayed or neutered 2,832 animals.
PBC: How many dogs did you save last year? Tell us about a memorable rescue.
Michelle: Our organization saved almost 1,500 dogs last year! One of our most memorable rescues took place in February of 2015. It was a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon and the snow had just begun to fall, covering our shelter and parking lot in a glistening blanket of white. Through the snow, an old station wagon pulled up to the back of our building. The barking intensified as staff members approached and a sea of curious faces became visible. Inside the car was a family of chihuahua mixes and their owner that had been displaced from their home due to a fire.They had been living in the station wagon for three days before the owner reached out to our shelter for help. In addition to the fire and tragedy of losing their home, the amount of dogs had become unreasonable due to the uncontrolled reproduction of intact dogs in the home. The owner stated that although a difficult decision, it would be in the best interest of the animals to relinquish them to our shelter. Our staff members formed a line across the parking lot and one by one we began to pull dogs from the car through the half-open drivers window. After entering each dog into our data system, administering vaccinations and doing general health checks, we had taken in a total of 33 dogs and one cat. In addition to adult dogs, six puppies under the age of eight weeks were rescued from the fire. It was a taxing day for not only the animals and their owner but for our dedicated team of staff members as well. We were all so grateful to the owner for seeking help and incredibly thankful that they had all managed to escape the fire relatively unharmed. After thorough examinations from our veterinarian, all of the animals were given a clean bill of health and all went on to find their forever homes. Some say miracles do happen, and we may have been a part of one that fateful day.
PBC: Tell us your most challenging moment in the rescue and how you got through it.
Michelle: Working at an animal shelter can provide many challenges each day but as animal welfare professionals, we have a unique opportunity to not only provide love and compassion to the animals in our care but to offer assistance and resources that will increase the quality of life for both pets and the people who love them.
PBC: How did you hear about PBC?
Michelle: I came across PBC while researching grant opportunities online. I had never heard of the organization before and was very curious about your mission. I was very impressed with the unique ways in which you advocate for adoption and rescue dogs. We are grateful to your organization for supporting the lifesaving work of rescue groups and shelters and are excited for the opportunity to work with you in the future!
PBC: Let us know anything else you wish to share!
Michelle: We work hard to develop programs that will enrich the community and provide resources to pet owners in need. We recently began expanding our Community Outreach program and will be offering free resources such as spay/neuter vouchers, vaccines, preventatives, etc. to those in need. The goal of the program is to provide resources that will keep pets in homes with the people who love them. We have also implemented a Behavior Modification and Training program to enrich our dogs and teach them basic commands while also giving them the skills to succeed into the future. This program offers behavioral assistance to those in the community that may be struggling or considering relinquishing their animal(s) due to behavior issues. We believe Humane Education is an important part of enhancing the community by teaching respect, kindness and compassion for animals, especially in the youth population of our community. We offer a really neat program called "Reading to Pets" and invite kids from grades 1-8 to come to the shelter and read to our animals. The program is designed to help children improve their reading skills while providing socialization and positive interaction for our animals. Children improve their literacy skills while nurturing empathy and compassion towards animals. The animals build social skills that will help set them up for success in their new homes. The shelter can be a very stressful place and this program helps to reduce anxiety and bring comfort to the animals. Plus, it's adorable!