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Allen County SPCA seeing record number of adoptions

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 9:45 pm

Ninety-one animals were adopted from the Allen County SPCA in October and 75 in November, setting new records for the shelter.

Two months ago Jessica Henry became director of the Allen County SPCA, at

4919 S. Hanna Street. Henry said the high numbers of adoptions reflect a combination of factors, starting with a new, streamlined adoption process.

Faster approval of a candidate is also a priority. No longer are there long waits for approval while the staff tracks down multiple references; one good one is enough. Henry said she talked to other shelters to find out what their processes for adoptions were and then adjusted the ACSPCA's. Long waits can mean the person looking to adopt the animal will go elsewhere, something the ACSPCA doesn't want to happen.

“We want to find good '“forever'” homes for our animals,” Henry said.

Higher turnover, although great for their dogs and cats, costs the shelter more because it they must intake new animals to fill those empty spots. All the animals it takes in must be in top health and undergo spaying or neutering, which costs money. Henry said the facility is looking to counter these costs by increased grant revenues and establishing more fundraisers.

Henry is new to the ACSPCA, but not new to volunteering with animal shelters. One of Henry's college friends, Tracey Neblett, works for the Clinton County Humane Society and got Henry involved in animal rescue and transport. Taking the job at the ACSPCA seemed like a natural transition for her.

Henry has a degree in communications from St. Joseph College, and most recently worked for her brother in managing her brother's numerous business properties. Before that she worked for the city as a neighborhood specialist. She volunteered and served on the board of the AIDS Task Force of Northeast Indiana for years, where she learned the ins and outs of a nonprofit organization, as well as how to raise money.

Henry is hoping to educate more people about the effect numerous stray animals have on a community.

The ACSPCA is a closed shelter. Unlike an “open shelter,” it only takes as many animals as it they can support long term. None of the animals will be destroyed; the goal is to find them forever homes. All the animals it takes go through a screening process to make sure they're not overly aggressive. If an animal stays at the shelter for a long time, it might look for a foster family or a rescue for placement.

Henry said she got to know her 13 staff members and how the shelter runs during her first month on the job. Since then, she has been networking with other shelters to see how they operate, and soon she will sit down and decide on some long-term goals for the ACSPCA shelter.

“The shelter is, to use a canine reference, getting long in the tooth,” Henry said.

She already knows they need to do some work on the HVAC system and on their outdoor kennels. Henry said she would really like to serve as a resource to the community for issues as they relate to animal welfare.

“For example, how can we assist owners who feel like they have to surrender their pets, but don't necessarily want to? What resources can we provide to them? What social service can we plug them into that might help them be able to keep that pet in the home,” Henry said.

Henry said they will be developing more educational outreach into the community and look at ways to partner with other nonprofits. For example, Henry is scheduled to meet with an organization that does in-home day care for the elderly about ways to get pets into these homes. She would also like to work with more scouting programs or possibly Big Brother Big Sisters.

“I'm a firm believer that animal welfare begins in the home, and teaching young people the importance of kindness to animals is a life lesson,” Henry said.