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In light of Celebrate Shelter Pets Day on Dec. 5, students rescue, adopt shelter pets

Caitlin Follman
A volunteer at the Humane Society for Hamilton County takes care of a cat awaiting adoption. Jennifer Hatcher, director of development at the Humane Society for Hamilton County, said adopting a pet is life-saving for animals facing the risk of euthanasia.

Sophomore McKenzie Henry enjoys caring for her shelter’s dog and cats and fosters kittens from the Indy Humane Society.

“We’ve always had a really good experience with our shelter pets,” Henry said. “All the pets we’ve ever had are from the shelter and all of them have been great, so we’ve never had a bad experience.”

A volunteer with the Indy Humane Society plays with a cat at the shelter.  Caitlin Follman

Henry’s family has rescued and brought home one dog and three cats from the shelter. She said she doesn’t know where most of her animals came from or why they ended up in the situations they were in. However, she said she’s never had any problems raising rescued animals and the animals haven’t had many problems.

“It’s hard for me to tell because we got (my dog) as a puppy,” she said, “but my dog is afraid of stairs. Like, I’m not sure if that’s because of the shelter or anything, but besides that, she’s normal.”

A lady plays with one of the many dogs being kept in the Humane Society for Hamilton County. Sophomore McKenzie Henry said there is currently a record number of pets being put up to adoption across the country. (Caitlin Follman)

Jennifer Hatcher, director of Development at the Humane Society for Hamilton County, said no home is complete without a pet.

“Adopting a pet is cost-effective and, most importantly, it saves not just one life but two,” Hatcher said. “The animal who is being adopted and the animal who gets to take their place that we save from another shelter who is at risk for euthanasia.”

Some people start adopting pets from the shelter and rescuing pets because they want to give good homes to the animals, while others believe that it’s the only way to own a pet. Henry, though, said she disagrees.

“There’s nothing wrong with not getting (pets) from the shelter, it’s just that my mom is always like, ‘Let’s get them from the shelter.’” Henry said. “And I know for some people it’s harder if they have allergies to get them from a shelter or to rescue them.”

Hatcher, who adopted a dog from the Humane Society in 2014 because of a divorce situation, did say some animals from the shelter can have many health and behavioral issues, mainly from their previous homes. 

“Just like humans, all animals are unique and have their own needs– both medically and behaviorally,” she said.

A volunteer at the Humane Society for Hamilton County feeds a dog awaiting adoption. Sophomore Dylan Howard said taking care of adopted animals require a little more patience than other animals. (Caitlin Follman)

Like Henry, sophomore Dylan Howard has a rescue cat. She said she rescued her cat in 2016 from her friends and she had a rescue dog before she was born.

“My cat hasn’t had any major issues since we got him,” Howard said. “My dog, however,  had hearing and sight issues since we got him.”

Howard said she agrees with Hatcher.

“I don’t think rescue pets are necessarily more challenging to take care of, but I do think they require a little more patience than other animals,” she said.

Most animals from the shelter come as strays, and the other portion is surrendered by their owners for a number of reasons. According to Henry, those reasons range from the animal being sick, the owners not capable of affording their care or the animal not getting along with other animals in the home.

“We are seeing a record number of owner surrenders and shelters all over the country are in crisis,” Henry said. “Adopt, and if you can’t adopt, foster, volunteer or donate.”

Submitted photo: Sophomore McKenzie Henry poses with her cat. She said all of her pets are adopted from the Indy Humane Society.

That’s why Henry said she and her mother started fostering kittens from the humane society.

“Sometimes we don’t have time to volunteer hours, but having the kittens at home is like something that we’re both interested in,” Henry said. “The humane society is kind of far from our house so it’s like not driving over to volunteer but just going and picking up the kittens and bringing them home was easier for us to do.”

Hatcher said if you can’t adopt, then other choices are to either foster or volunteer.

Henry said, “I think that rescuing pets is an amazing option for those who have the resources in order to take care of their needs.”

Henry said when she’s older she will continue to foster, rescue and adopt cats and dogs.

She said, “I think that I’ll mainly do fostering and try to keep the numbers of permanent pets in my house not as high, but I know that I will probably end up with more than seven cats.”

Henry and Hatcher both said there’s no better time than the present to welcome a shelter pet into your home. They said it saves lives and can make owners happy as well.

“I think it’s great that it’s an option for people to be able to give animals a second chance,” Henry said. “But there’s nothing wrong with getting them not adopted or whatever, but I think it’s a great chance for (the animals) and I’m always happy that I can help them too.” 

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