Watertown Humane Society
- WFHS member since: 2019
- 4.6 star rating on Google reviews
- 10,000 followers on Facebook
- Manager: My name is Heather VanDam and I started volunteering here probably 15 years ago, I was hired on as an adoption counselor basically because I was here all the time and they said we should probably pay you for all this time, I was officially hired in Sept. of 2018. After going through the UW Shelter Medicine program in 2019 we developed some new roles including Executive Director, I have filled that role since its creation.
On your Facebook page I see that you are doing a campaign for a shelter renovation project, can you tell me more about that?
To our core we believe that when we know better, we must do better. Our shelter, all be it sufficient, has many flaws when taking into consideration our climate and all the newer science behind animal sheltering. For example, our dog kennel is designed where our dogs all face each other, which as we all know increases kennel noise and stress and can quickly deteriorate a dog’s personality and comfort.
For us it is so much more than the physical state of the shelter, which of course needs some updating as well, for us it’s all about creating a safer, healthier environment for the animals to live in while they wait to be adopted. Beyond the opportunity for easier sanitation, our new space will give our more reactive dogs a haven from being near other dogs which will make it much safer for our canine companions to access the dogs for their much-needed walks and one on one time.
We are most excited about the plans for a very large indoor play area for all those times in Wisconsin that it just isn’t the most comfortable to be outside with the dogs. With the financial help from our supporters, we are certain we can provide the best possible steppingstone to a better life for the animals in our care.
Game show fundraiser- very unique and looks like it would be a lot of fun- what can you tell me about it?
We are very excited to offer again this year the Furry Feud! This family style game show features teams competing against each other in a game very similar to the popular TV game show the Family Feud. Teams dress up in costumes and represent their team theme with style while they have their chance to compete for the title of Furriest of them All!
The event features amazing silent auction prizes and signature cocktails; it really is an incredibly fun event that serves as our largest fundraiser of the year. Join us for the fun on August 19th 2023 at Turner Hall in Watertown. www.whsadopt.org/furryfeud
Spay/Neuter program- recently celebrated 100th patient- congratulations! Is this a new program, how does it work, how long in the making, etc?
Like most shelters we have struggled to find spay/neuter appointments for the animals in our care. In October of 2022 we worked diligently to buy equipment and convert a small storage room into a surgical suite, and we have the honor of working with Dr. Brooke Groskopf who is on staff now for two days a week.
Although the plan for the surgical suite started to support our shelter animals, we started to realize that pet owners were struggling to find and afford this care for their own pets as well. Dr. Brooke and our team of Vet Techs can provide safe and efficient spay/neuter surgeries at a lower cost to approximately 60 animals per week, which of course not only is helping our animals get adopted faster but by being able to offer this service to the public we have seen that it has provided some much-needed financial relief for pet owners and essential medical care for the pets in our communities.
We are proud of the service we can offer to the public and the gratitude we receive from our clients is incredibly rewarding. We have quickly outgrown that little storage closet suite and have plans to improve on this surgical space during our renovation project that we hope to break ground on in 2023, more space means we have more capacity to help the animals who need us!
Are there any programs or initiatives you are currently offering that you are really proud of? What can you tell me about that program/initiative?
During Covid we started a very small and informal food pantry here at the shelter. We are proud of the much-needed support that this has provided for the pet owners of our community since its opening. With the new renovation this food pantry will be given some dedicated space that will allow us to expand its offerings and continue to aid those in need.
Name one way you pivoted during COVID that was successful for you- maybe even something you’re still doing/offering now?
As we all know our entire world changed during Covid, for us one of the best things that happened was the trend of appointment only. We are a very small staff, we only have two members of the adoption team on staff during open hours, and it can be busy and distracting. By requiring an appointment for animal visiting we have been afforded the time to prepare for the day’s events, and lessen our distraction during adoption appointments. We truly feel we are more effective and thorough when our time is slotted to a specific animal and its adoption.
What are you looking forward to in 2023?
With the building initiative underway, we are most excited to work towards that. During this whole process we support each other with the plans to not be bigger, just be better.