The Humane Society for Hamilton County has found its forever home.
It’s a place where dogs can roam outdoors and the kitties can sunbathe on “catios.” A place where workers and volunteers will offer outreach programs in an education center and animals can get treated in a medical department.
With 40,000 square feet and plenty of sunlight, Hamilton Humane’s new $12 million home at 106th Street and Hague Road certainly appears to be the cat’s pajamas.
Workers and volunteers Wednesday said good-bye to their 8,000-square-foot Noblesville home of more than 30 years, which the society outgrew a decade ago. They loaded 141 cats in carriers and 84 dogs on leashes into a convoy of 40 vehicles that was led by police escort into the new digs.
The workers led the dogs — tails wagging, sniffing the air — out of the cars and hustled the cats in cardboard carriers to their new homes, already marked with names like Rocky, Harley, Sweetie and Lois.
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New shelter, better behavior
The furry transplants were greeted with roomier spaces that have glass doors in the front rather than bars so they and their adopters can look at each other without obstruction. The cat kennels also have window fronts, and the felines have a common area to lounge as well as a “catio,” a glassy room with southern exposure and (very high) open windows to allow in fresh air. Outside in back is a large dog run, a measurable upgrade from walks around the parking lot at the old place.
Executive Director Rebecca Stevens said she visited many of the most modern shelters around the country and this will rank among the best.
The spacious facility should encourage better behavior by the animals, which in turn, should lead to faster adoptions, Stevens said. The cats each have two kennel spaces, one for lounging and one for their litter boxes. The dogs are separated from each other by walls rather than wires and high ceilings, which significantly reduces the noise from barking.
“The cats used to be in 2-by-2 foot steel cages with no sunlight and without adequate air exchange and would stare at each other all day,” Stevens said. “Now they can see outside in the common areas. For cats, the world is their TV.”
“For dogs, there was no rest, no peace, constant barking by the dogs next to them and they were overstimulated,” Stevens said. “A lot of these dogs were good when they came here but after a while they start losing their minds.”
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The new home will also be good for the employees, said Megan Davis, who works for the shelter.
“Happier animals make for a happier environment,” Davis said. “And the old place was really tight. We had one long hallway in which we had to squeeze by each other to get by.”
The no-kill shelter doubles as animal control for Hamilton County and takes in approximately 3,000 homeless animals each year, many of which have been injured, abused or neglected. Last year it placed about 98% of its animals and took in 574 animals at risk of euthanasia from other shelters.
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The Humane Society will be closed for adoptions until April 8 but continue accepting Hamilton County’s stray and unwanted animals until then. Its medical wing will allow the shelter to do procedures right there rather than sending them out to veterinary offices.
All the money for the new shelter was raised through private donations, with a huge boost from a $4 million gift from local entrepreneur Steve Cage, who will lend his name to the Steven J. Cage Foundation Animal Wellness Center. A large mural of Cage’s black cat, Stanley, is on a front exterior wall of the center.
Cage said he grew up with animals and his dog, a boxer, used to accompany him on a paper route when he was a child. Cage has his own foundation that raises money for various charities and said this was the “right time” to jump in and help the Human Society.
“It feels good,” Cage said.
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