NEW DIGS — Construction is wrapping up on the new Kokomo Humane Society. Karen Wolfe, director of the shelter, anticipates moving in the second week of June.  

(Editor's note: This story ran as part of the Kokomo Perspective's annual Adopt-A-Pet section.)

The Kokomo Humane Society is back up to nine lives again with the impending opening of its brand new building.

With construction in high gear, the shelter along Hoffer Street is expected to open next month. Karen Wolfe, executive director, said the new shelter not only will improve lives of the pets staying at the shelter but also improve community awareness, volunteerism, and support.

“I expect to see an increase in intake. I think people are going to feel more comfortable bringing animals to us. I see an increase in adoptions, and I see an increase in volunteers and hopefully donations as well. I think everything is going to be bigger,” said Wolfe.

The new shelter will replace the current shelter, which has been deteriorating for several years now. The new shelter will have a high-quality air filtration system, which will improve air quality and reduce the chances of illnesses spreading among shelter pets. It’s also coming complete with a surgery center, which will allow surgeries to be performed on animals in-house. The result, Wolfe said, will be healthier animals with a better shot at being adopted.

As a way to generate more funds for the shelter, the new shelter also will have an attached Cat Café. Guests can visit the café for $5, which includes admittance, a drink, a snack, and a chance to mingle with adoptable cats. Volunteers currently are being sought for the café for a variety of positions, from manning the cash register to simply making sure the cats are safe with guests.

“There’s going to be just a lot more volunteer opportunities, more opportunities for people who want to interact with the animals directly. It’ll be easier with the cats. It’ll be easier to interact with all the animals. We have three visitation rooms, so you can take an animal in there,” she said.

With the opening of the new shelter, KHS also will be offering new fostering opportunities. In the past, fosters mainly were sought to take care of a cat with kittens, underage kittens, or underage puppies.

“This is going to be for a dog that maybe just needs a break from the kennel. So the possibilities for fostering are maybe you take one home for a weekend or maybe you take one home for a week,” she said. “You take that dog, and they get more exposure to other people. Maybe they get adopted outside of the shelter. There are just a lot of opportunities.”

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The shelter comes at a time when the shelter is seeing better numbers than ever in terms of higher adoption rates and lower euthanasia rates. The new shelter only will help in continuing to improve those numbers, Wolfe said.

Education has been a big focus for the shelter over the past several years in order to make those improvements. For instance, select staff attended a Dogs Playing for Life seminar last June to learn how to facilitate dog playgroups and increase adoption numbers with “bully” breeds and larger dogs. Another staff member attended a Canine Good Citizen mentorship program which also was geared toward helping increase the adoptability of dogs.

In terms of cats, Wolfe credited Kokomo Community Cats for the work that organization has done to trap, neuter, and release cats. The result of those efforts has been fewer litters being taken to the shelter.

“I have to credit Kokomo Community Cats. We have not been slammed with kittens yet, and I think that has a lot to do with the work they have been doing with community cats,” she said.

Petco Foundation Grant

The Petco Foundation is continuing to support the Kokomo Humane Society. The nonprofit gave $250,000 for the capital campaign for the shelter, and recently the foundation gave the shelter a two-year grant of $35,000 for both years.

The money will be used to put up fencing around the shelter and to build a “catio” outside the Cat Café to allow the felines to get fresh air in an enclosed space. While these additions were going to be put in place eventually, Wolfe said the grant from the Petco Foundation will make it possible for them to be completed prior to the grand opening of the shelter.

“We have an amazing partnership with the Petco Foundation,” she said. “This was a great thing.”