Humane Society of Missouri

Humane Society of Missouri goes beyond pet adoptions

The Humane Society of Missouri operates three warm and engaging animal-friendly facilities frequented by St. Louis pet lovers for more than just pet adoptions. Special events, training classes, expert pet care advice, and humane education for children and adults help to make the Humane Society of Missouri an important part of pet owners’ lives and help to end the cycle of animal abuse and pet overpopulation.

With its headquarters in St. Louis, satellite centers in north and west St. Louis County and the Longmeadow Rescue Ranch just outside St. Louis, the Humane Society of Missouri offers a model program in helping people develop lasting relationships with animals. As a member of the St. Louis Petlover Coalition, the Humane Society of Missouri saves thousands of animals and improves animal welfare efforts in St. Louis and throughout Missouri.

If you’re planning a trip to St. Louis, be sure to check out the Humane Society of Missouri’s calendar of upcoming events. Something special is always going on. One example is the Bark in the Park Country Fair and Walk for Animals held each spring at Forest Park to raise funds for veterinary care for homeless animals.

Rich history shapes programs

Since the late 1800s, the Humane Society of Missouri has been at the forefront of giving animals a second chance. Only four years after Henry Bergh, founder of the American humane movement, began the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, a group of Bergh admirers founded the Humane Society of Missouri on January 3, 1870. A small, one-room office in downtown St. Louis housed animals in cold weather while business went on as usual. An old, weather-beaten shed served as the primary facility.

Through the years, dedicated animal lovers have bestowed many gifts on the Humane Society of Missouri, helping to spear fundraising and animal welfare efforts. One such gift came in 1928, when John Lichter gave $30,000 in memory of his wife, Irene, a longtime director, for the new building that was built on Macklind Avenue.

Pet overpopulation has been a longtime concern. In March 1965, the Humane Society of Missouri began spaying all female dogs and cats entering its facilities to help address overpopulation. Neutering of male cats became mandatory in 1976.

The first dog obedience class graduated in 1968, and the Humane Society of Missouri Auxiliary, made up of dedicated men and women, organized the first retail pet shop within a humane society in the country when it opened Adopt n’ Shop. The Visiting Pets outreach began in 1979, a therapy program in which volunteers took their own pets to area nursing homes and hospitals to visit people who could no longer have pets of their own.

The Cinderella Program, offering funding for veterinary care for stray, injured animals, was initiated in 1989 to boost animal adoptions. In 1990, Kids for Critters Camp was created, allowing St. Louis children a one-week summer camp to learn about responsible pet care.

Microchipping became mandatory for adopted animals in 1994, helping to increase reunions between owners and lost pets by nearly 75 percent. The Foster Care Program was begun to provide care for newborn kittens and puppies until they are old enough to be adopted. Low-cost microchipping was offered to the public in 1996 through chip-a-thons.

Groundbreaking for a new shelter, veterinary center and headquarters building took place in October 1996, and two years later, the Humane Society of Missouri moved to its new location across the street from the former one. Pet Etc. classes, consisting of one-day seminars on animal-care topics, were added to the summer curriculum for children. When the Carol Gates Throop Memorial Park opened in June 1999 at the former site, it became a tribute to the millions of people and pets helped over 70 years at that location.

In 2000, the Humane Society of Missouri began a pre-adoption spay/neuter program to help ensure all pets are spayed or neutered prior to being adopted. Operation SNIP (Spay/Neuter Initiative Program), which provides low-cost surgeries one day a week, was begun with donations.

Obedience training classes have increased by 63 percent, and a Pet Behavior Helpline offering customized answers to pet problems and inquiries have helped to address the No. 1 reason pets are relinquished to shelters: behavioral problems.

The tradition continues

Many of the early animal welfare programs begun at the Humane Society of Missouri continue today. These have taken root in helping to create lasting relationships between people and their beloved pets. Meanwhile, new programs, events and opportunities are continually offered. All have a central goal in mind: to enhance the human-animal bond and reduce the number of unwanted pets.

Among recent new programs is the Black Dog Club, allowing adopters to save $50 on adoptions of black dogs – which rank at the bottom of animals chosen for adoption — during the month of September. A Puppy/Kitten Partner Program reaches out to those whose unsprayed females have litters by offering free food, vaccinations and medical care and arranging for a low-cost spay for the mother.

Tails on Trails is a joint promotional campaign in which the Humane Society of Missouri and Trailnet work to increase awareness of the benefits of regular exercise for people and dogs. Pet owners are invited to walk with their dog on one of more than 120 trails in the St. Louis region. Those without dogs can become a Pet Pal volunteer and walk a shelter dog.

Adopters from the Humane Society of Missouri become lifetime members of the Paw Partner program, in which they receive veterinary care at a 10 percent savings. Not only does veterinary care draw pet owners to the Humane Society of Missouri’s headquarters or one of its satellite centers. Puppy classes, summer educational programs, behavioral training and pet educational resources are other attractions. A speaker series features experts on a variety of pet-related subjects. As you can see, the Humane Society of Missouri offers something for all pet lovers.