Providing shelter

The Wichitan

Local humane society continues dedication to abandoned animals

Sarah Shelton | Contributor

Off Old Iowa Park road, right outside of the city, there are cats and dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds waiting for their one day family to come down that driveway and take them to live a happily ever after.

Bailey Stanfield, Senior at Rider High school holds one of the cats in the cat habitat while volunteering at the Wichita Falls Humane Society on Old Iowa Park Road.
Photo by Lauren Roberts

The Humane Society of Wichita County is the middle piece that helps represent the animals and aids in finding them a place to call their home.

A non-profit organization, the Humane Society is the voice for the animals, it take on the responsibilities to provide care and eventually a new place to live for each and every animal brought them.

Richard Dowdy, president of the Humane Society since January of 2012, oversees the organizations objectives.

“Our mission is to get these animals a home. We do animal intake and we also pull animals from the city animal shelter. We do foster programs, events, meet and greets, and make sure animals find good home at the end of the day,” Dowdy said. “We have an education committee, and we’re trying to reach out to the community.”

The Humane Society education committee also performs programs for children in pre-k through sixth grade and for junior and senior high students.

It focuses on getting kids to take action. Depending on the age group, different levels of topics are shared. The younger children learn the basics to pet care like petting and touching, or not pulling and poking.

The older kids learn about dog fighting and not being afraid to report it to the police or even a teacher.

The bottom line: the Humane Society wants the kids to learn responsible pet ownership.

“It’s tough! There’s so much to educate on, whether it’s money for day-to-day operations, or getting people to quit breeding their animals and getting them spayed and neutered, or even just proper vet care. There’s always a lot going on,” Dowdy said

The Southern Hills Student Council donated $386 to the Humane Society after a presentation they performed at their school. The Humane Society board members see the children’s decision to raise money as a sign that the programs are working.

The board also plan on broadening their jurisdiction for education programs to include surrounding towns.

“Dogs are not toys. You can’t just get a puppy, it’s a commitment [you] need to make. You have to realize that they grow up,” Sarah Young, a junior in animal biology and kennel tech at the Humane Society, said.

The Humane Society runs on grants and donations from the Wichita County community.

“We’re non-profit. We do receive some grants and we have an outstanding grant writer who helps tremendously, but we depend on donations because we don’t have any funding coming in. The Humane Society gets a very minimal fee for working with the city and by taking a lot of their animals. Donations are the biggest income by far,” Dowdy said.

Donations from sources come in various sizes.

Businesses, companies, families, pet owners, and even kids bringing their lemonade stand profiting have all contributed in some way, form, or fashion to the Humane Society.

Jax, a pit-bull mix smiles for the camera at the Wichita Falls Humane Society.

Gwen Mills, shelter manager, said, “Some kids now even have birthday parties where they don’t want gifts. They want everybody to bring something for an animal here. So instead of getting toy, they’ll ask for biscuits and food and then they’ll pack it up and bring it here. Kids will give up their whole birthday just to bring donations in.”

Volunteering is a constant form of donation that the Humane Society is always ready to accept.

With the animal intake numbers growing, the number of volunteers has also grown.

Volunteers help clean kennels, paint, socialize, feed, groom, and play with the animals.

There’s also a lot of community work the volunteers can do, such as transporting animals, introducing animals at off-site events, and helping run the adoption events.

Campus organizations and teams also do their part and volunteer time to the Humane Society.

Terri Todd, a freshman in mass communication, went to the Humane Society with the women’s soccer team and volunteered time by taking all the dogs for walks on leashes.

Chelsey Wall, Freshman, Athletic Training plays with the dog she finished adopting, Janie. “The one thing I missed after coming to college is a dog”.

“It’s fun and easy. You just grab a leash and walk them around,” Todd said.

Trish Lendley, a kennel tech, said “Everybody is here to save these animals. On some weekends we’ll have more volunteers than staff. We’ve had 30 to 40 airmen come here and they walked the dogs and fixed fences. It’s time worth investing.”

Fostering is also a form of volunteering that the Humane Society offers.

Brandon Miller, a senior in international studies, has been fostering a dog from the Humane Society for four months.

“After we lost our dog, Soozie, we decided that we wanted to help out with the community and in this way we can still remember her,” Miller said.  “We chose to foster her because she had been previously owned before but the people kept her in such horrible conditions. She was stained yellow because of her urine and she was starved to where you could see of all her ribs.”

Miller said fostering is a full-time commitment.

“If you want to do it, do it. The only things those animals want is love,”  he said.

Hosted adoption events help to market the Humane Society’s organization, something that has led them to be able to host more events.

“The Humane Society’s adoption numbers have been rising up the past few years, Dowdy said.

More businesses have opened up to hosting adoption events and the organization’s Facebook page has gotten a lot of positive feedback and involvement

“We do have a very big Facebook page. It has over 5,500 followers. Every dog that gets adopted is put on the page with their story, and if we are in need of donations we’ll put that on the page. We also put lost and found on the page too and help network with the community. If somebody loses a dog, a lot of times this is where they come to check,” Young said.

The Humane Society no only covers the territory outside of the city but inside of Wichita County. The Wichita Falls animal shelter covers all animals inside of the city limits.

There is still confusion for most residents of where to bring or find animals.

Both facilities used to be on the same campus but then the animal shelter moved to a new facility off of Hatton Road.

Dowdy said when that move was made, new ordinances were written.

“If your driver’s license is within the city of Wichita Falls, you have to take the animal to the Wichita Falls animal shelter. You cannot bring an animal to the Humane Society unless you live in their jurisdiction,” said Dowdy.

The city deals with the majority of the animal numbers but the human society pulls animals from them as well, Dowdy said.

However, all adoption processes are done through the Humane Society.

“We want to save as many animals as possible. That’s what everyone sees us as doing,” Dowdy said.

The Humane Society has also dealt with a variety of species, including rabbits, sheep, pigs, donkeys, and horses.

Earlier in March, the Humane Society worked with a north Texas animal shelter in the Dallas region on a horse case where approximately 300 horses were taken into custody due to mistreatment.

“It’s rewarding knowing the animals are getting a home. We’re not in this for the money,” Dowdy said.”