Every year when I attend DCHS Toto’s Gala, I am always amazed by the staff, volunteers, and their stories. So, when I was invited to tour The Dane County Humane Society, I jumped at the chance to see what happens behind the scenes. First of all, everything that everyone does cannot be documented in a social media post. You truly have to experience it yourself and I hope that you will do so.
I arrived at 2:00 and was warmly greeted with a handshake and a smile by Gwen Kochan, Associate Director of Development. I immediately noticed that this facility was teeming with activity. There were people in cat and dog “Meet & Greet” rooms, making the acquaintance of their future family members. Other employees were patiently working with dogs on their polite walking etiquette. There were boards with information, staff and volunteer photos, and a little market place where people could get some items for their newly adopted family. My favorite board was the board that said, “Animals Going Home Today”, listing those who would be leaving DCHS with their new families. There were educational and training areas where children can attend summer camps, learning about the creatures we share the planet with, and having opportunities to directly interact with them.
In other areas of the building, staff and volunteers were busy cleaning, sterilizing, or checking charts for a resident’s favorite toy or treat. There were whiteboards with individualized medical, social and emotional goals for each and EVERY animal. One chart had a column for the volunteer, the name of the animal, and “Why they need snuggles”. There were even aromatherapy treatment plans to assist those souls who have been traumatized and stressed. I was told by Gwen that they try to keep the areas for the animals calm and from what I observed, they have achieved that goal. There were areas for rabbits, cats, dogs, mice, chinchillas, rats, you name it. There were open outdoor runs for dogs to burn off some energy and to have some supervised socialization.
Of course, there where areas to view all of the animals needing homes. Some, excited and outgoing. Others, so broken by past treatment, you could see they dare not even dream of happiness. My heart hurt looking into the eyes of these animals, even though I know that they are being cared for in a most compassionate way.
My heart heavy, not wanting to leave the adoptable souls, we headed down a hallway to the surgical center. A place that no animal wishes to find themselves, but a place where broken bones and hearts are put back together. When an animal comes in and needs emergency care, or to be spayed or neutered, there is a large surgical area and surgical suites with quiet recovery rooms. These are all fully equipped with amazing veterinarians, surgical assistants, and caregivers.
Heading outside we walked to another building, the Wildlife Center. Gwen explained that they are already seeing some spring casualties, including an owl who had been hit by a car and was receiving treatment until it could be safely released. In the Wildlife Center, there was a darkened room with small brown bats that required feeding with tiny tweezers. In another room, baby birds which need to be fed almost constantly by caring staff members. The Wildlife Center at DCHS treated 3, 878 animals of 158 different species in 2018. Think about that for a minute...
On the DCHS property, there is even a barn for horses, pigs, goats, chickens and other farm animals needing care. As I prepared to leave, a large ASPCA Relocation and Rescue van had just unloaded 17 cats from “down south”. (Expect to see some beautiful cats looking for great homes soon.)
At the end of the tour, I was left with one overwhelming thought. I was so fortunate to have witnessed the extraordinary compassion DCHS puts forth in everything they do. The orchestration of this facility and the degree to which all is accomplished is seriously staggering. To the amazing staff and volunteers that work tirelessly to calm, hug, feed, protect, train, treat, rehabilitate and LOVE all of the souls that need it the most - Thank you! Your efforts are noble, kind, and good. They truly reflect the qualities we all should aspire to. If you are interested in adopting a pet, volunteering your time, or able to make a donation, please visit https://www.giveshelter.org/ #danecountyhumansociety#giveshelter#kindnessrules