10K Day at Helping Strays
Helping Strays is its 20th anniversary next year, but it was able to mark a different milestone last week when the 10,000th animal was adopted from Monroe County’s no-kill shelter.
Adoption 10,000 was a kitten named Smokey, which had previously been rescued and brought to the shelter by firefighter Ray Ireland of Ellis Grove.
According to Helping Strays Executive Director Scott Spinner, Ireland saw something thrown from a vehicle in front of him while driving near his home.
When Ireland stopped to investigate, he found that the something was a mother cat and her kittens, which he then took to Helping Strays.
However, Ireland’s son had developed a soft spot for one of the gray kittens, which led to Smokey going home with the Ireland family Thursday and brought the shelter up to the 10,000 adoptions mark.
Helping Strays staff and volunteers celebrated on Friday with cake and ice cream – although much of the ice cream was served in “pup cups” to the shelter’s canine residents.
The felines weren’t forgotten, though. They were treated to Inaba Churu chicken puree.
Spinner called the moment a “community accomplishment,” thanking the organization’s founders, staff, volunteers, fosters and donors.
“So many in the community have welcomed homeless dogs and cats into their families,” he continued. “It really wouldn’t be possible without them.”
The idea for Helping Strays, then known as Monroe County Humane Society, was conceived in 2002 when a group came together to help abandoned and homeless animals.
For the next two years, the organization raised startup funds for the eventual founding of the organization, which received tax-exempt status in August 2004.
At that time, the MCHS had two dogs housed at the animal control building in Waterloo and 12 cats available for adoption.
The animal lovers got a break in July 2005 when business owners Jim and Darla Baker of Waterloo agreed to lease the former Jewel Ken Kennel building on Route 3 just north of Red Bud rent-free for two years.
The kennel was converted to a no-kill animal shelter in 2006, where it was the home of MCHS for the next eight years.
In April 2014, what was then known as the Helping Strays Humane Society of Monroe County broke ground on the new facility at its current location, 4221 Hanover Road.
At the new shelter, Helping Strays has been able to accommodate a much larger population and provide a wider variety of activities for shelter animals as well as being able to arrange more comfortable visits with volunteers and potential adopters.
Paula Hutchinson, one of the original founders of what would eventually become Helping Strays, also spoke to guests during Friday’s celebration.
Hutchinson said she and the other founders couldn’t have imagined what it would be like to reach 1,000 adoptions – much less 10,000.
Spinner shared that sentiment, keeping an eye on the future of the shelter.
“I’m really excited to rescue the next 10,000,” he said.