Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Shirley LeClair contacted the Kokomo Humane Society in search of a short-haired, declawed female cat who used to be indoors.
Karen Wolfe, executive director of the Kokomo Humane Society, said she had the perfect cat in mind for LeClair. It was the office cat, Cappy, a long-haired male who was more used to living outside.
“He’s the best cat in the world,” LeClair said. “I’ve always been a dog person. But Cappy, he takes the cake.
LeClair explained that she started adopting cats because she worried that her limited mobility would make it difficult to take a dog outside. His family members retrieved Cappy from the Humane Society.
Months later, when Wolfe called to ask if Cappy was up to date on his shots, Wolfe decided to bring the shots to LeClair’s assisted living facility to make sure Cappy and his landlord were healthy.
Although the vaccination was done for free, LeClair still got his checkbook back. Cappy’s owner has donated hundreds of dollars to the Humane Society so those less fortunate can benefit from the same services.
Recently, the Community Foundation awarded the Humane Society a $5,000 grant to continue vaccinating pets outside of the shelter through its Pet Assistance Program. Besides vaccinations, Wolfe explained, the program helps provide microchips and ID tags to pets in Howard County, whether or not owners can afford the services.
Wolfe added that the Pet Assistance Program works proactively to help the Humane Society Animal Shelter.
Pets that can be identified through microchips and ID tags can be returned to their owners more quickly, taking up less space in the shelter, Wolfe explained. While pets must spend time at the shelter, however, they do not exchange preventable diseases with shelter animals.
“It’s just amazing, the percentage of animals that come here, really, obviously have loved and cared for animals that don’t find their way back because people don’t come here to check,” Wolfe said. . “So it’s a way to help the community, but also really help us by keeping our population healthier and freeing up our space.”
Emerald Blankenship, director of programs at the Community Foundation, explained that the recent grant awarded to the Humane Society serves as an example for the different sizes of grants the Community Foundation makes.
Community Foundation grants, Blankenship explained, are either awarded to established areas of interest or to strategic aspirations that have been chosen through community input.
The Humane Society grant falls under the “quality of life” strategic aspiration, Blankenship said.
“It helps the Humane Society by protecting their people here, but it’s also a great service they provide to people,” Blankenship said. “I know there has been a huge influx of people adopting animals or buying pets while quarantined during COVID, and not necessarily equipped to care for those animals long term. It’s a way to help these people. »
Wolfe agreed, adding, “We can say all day that if you can’t afford a pet then you shouldn’t have one, but that’s not going to stop anyone. The reality is that people are going to have animals, and that’s really a huge part of people’s lives.
The Humane Society’s executive director clarified that while she doesn’t think people should adopt pets expecting someone else to pay for them, she believes in helping people. animals where she can.
For the most part, Wolfe said, the pet assistance program was implemented through Wellness Wednesdays at the Humane Society. From 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays, people were able to bring their pets for free vaccinations.
“Even if you have the money to do it, and you won’t do it because you don’t want to spend your money, I would prefer your animals to be vaccinated because it affects us,” Wolfe said.
When pet owners sign up for vaccines, Wolfe added, she asks if they’d like to have their pets microchipped for $10. The Humane Society also asks if the visitor would like to make a donation.
If the pet owner does not seem to have the financial means to have their animal microchipped, it is always offered free of charge.
“The last thing I want to do is embarrass anyone,” Wolfe said. “So I think having a conversation is a good way to understand what people need.”
Blankenship explained that there are several ways donors can contribute to their favorite organizations. An example, she said, would be donor-advised funds. People can also create endowment funds for organizations like the Kokomo Humane Society.
Alternatively, people can donate to the Community Foundation or the Kokomo Humane Society by depositing checks or donating through their respective websites.
“There are a lot of champions in this community for pets,” said Joe Dunbar, chair of the Community Foundation’s grants committee.
Wolfe added that she feels the support from the community and from people like LeClair, who adopted Cappy.
“I love animals. And every night in my prayers, I pray for all pets. I pray for them to be well taken care of. I pray for all farmers and all their animals,” LeClair said. “I love animals, I would like to have a house full of them.”