You know if for the fluffy faces, whiskers and wagging tails looking for a new home. But the Humane Society of Boulder Valley is much more than just adoptions.
There’s a lot to the local humane society that you probably don’t know, says spokesperson Amanda Boerman.
The past year was big, full of changes. The humane society’s long-time CEO left and was replaced by a new-but-not-new face, Jan McHugh-Smith, former CEO who actually started the humane society more than 35 years ago.
The last year also brought on a new, on-site vet behaviorist, who specializes in helping the shelter animals overcome behavior challenges, like anxiety and fear. The shelter also provides medical care for its animals, from vaccinations to spaying and neutering, all the way to complicated orthopedic procedures. This medical program is funded in part by the public’s use of the shelter’s vet clinic. So when you bring your own pet to get medical help, as well as training and behavior services at the humane society, you are also helping other needy animals get care.
In fact, Boulder’s humane society has such elevated medical and behavior support that it regularly accepts needy animals from other under-resourced shelters in the region. Sometimes another shelter will run out of space or an animal needs more advanced care. Boulder opens its doors to many of these animals — about 3,000 transfers every year, Boerman says. In total, the shelter cares for more than 7,000 animals annually.
“We transfer a lot of medically and behaviorally challenged animals. It’s not all just puppies and kittens and water-and-feed ready-to-go pets. There’s also a significant number of complicated animals,” she says. “But our community has been so supportive of welcoming them to Boulder with open arms.”
Another program many residents may not know about is the Safety Net Program. The humane society offers animal care to help victims of domestic violence who have been displaced from their homes, other people who are temporarily homeless or in transitional housing that doesn’t permit pets, people who are temporarily hospitalized and seniors who need help with pets. The goal is to keep pets and people together in healthy relationships and prevent the relinquishment of pets whenever possible.
The relationship with a pet can dramatically impact the quality of life for seniors and other at-risk populations, Boerman says.
“People often forgo their own care if they believe they’ll be separated from their animal,” she says.
Likewise, victims of domestic violence may even choose to say in a dangerous situation if they fear their animal could be hurt or they don’t know what to do with it, Boerman says.
“We want people to get the care that they need,” she says. “We can at least provide peace of mind, providing care for your pet when you can’t do so yourself.”
In addition, the humane society can provide boarding services for animals while residents recover from surgery or get mental health treatment.
“We want you to have your pet when you get out,” Boerman says. “It’s a big part of your quality of life.”
Another way the humane society reaches out to people in need is by providing pet care supplies. If you get laid off or are struggling to make ends meet between checks, the humane society has food you can take, collars, leashes and discounted or subsidized vet care for people who qualify. The mission is the same: Keep pets and families together.
The reason the humane society can provide these kinds of above-and-beyond services is because of the supportive community, Boerman says.
“Our community is really unique,” she says. “The community we’re in has been so committed to the welfare of animals. … This puts us in a position to extend other support options.”
As she sees it, the welfare of animals in a community serves as a barometer for the community’s health, at large.
“When we can start to add other social programs to our community, everything is elevated at that point,” Boerman says.