By HEATHER HISE
Your Voice Contributor
Louisville is for lovers — animal lovers, that is! This is undoubtedly a pet-friendly city whose people crowd into dog parks on warm, sunny days, have framed pictures of Fifi and Fido on their desks, and are shocked and saddened by accounts of animal cruelty. Louisvillians are quick to help animals in need, evidenced most recently by the generous support of pets rendered homeless by the March tornadoes. Food, blankets, toys, cleaning supplies, and even foster and adoptive families flooded local animal agencies to assist pets that were separated from their homes.
Despite the compassion for animals that abounds in this region, a daunting problem remains: There are too many homeless or abandoned animals and not enough good homes to go around. Food for thought: Just two unaltered dogs and their offspring can produce up to 67,000 dogs in six years, and two unaltered cats and their descendants can produce up to 420,000 cats in seven years. While these numbers can seem overwhelming, we’re fortunate to have the services of the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) that combat these issues every day. Founded in 1884, KHS is the state’s oldest animal welfare organization and largest pet adoption agency. They offer adoptions, spay/neuter surgeries, and training and behavioral programs, all of which help reduce pet overpopulation and homelessness in our area.
Just last year, KHS found homes for more than 6,000 cats and dogs and provided more than 9,000 spay/neuter surgeries at the affordable S.N.I.P. Clinic. While these services are working to significantly reduce the stray pet population in Louisville, it does not address the issue of why pets are surrendered in the first place, which is typically a consequence of behavioral problems. To address this, KHS offers education and training classes to help strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners and rectify trouble behaviors, helping the pet acclimate to and settle in their new “forever home.”
Like most nonprofits, KHS’ work would not be possible without support from our community. Forty-two percent of their revenue comes from philanthropic giving, and for the past 18 years, KHS has held the Waggin’ Trail Walk for the Animals to support its fundraising efforts. In recent years, the event has grown to include both a 5K run and one-mile walk for pet lovers and their animals.
This year, KHS has teamed up with a group of seven young professionals from Leadership Louisville’s Ignite Louisville program to turn the Waggin’ Trail event into a “Day at the Park” for our four-legged friends and their companion walkers, runners, and families. As Ignite Louisville participants, my teammates and I have found that working with KHS through the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge has helped fine-tune our leadership skills and build confidence in our ability to bring about visible change in the community. Our hope is that this year’s walkers, runners, and families will mark their calendars to participate year after year. Thousands of animals in our area depend on it!
We hope you’ll support the important role KHS plays in Louisville and the surrounding counties. Please join us to walk, run, or visit the many booths, activities, and food vendors on Saturday, June 2 at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. You can register and help fundraise by clicking the Waggin’ Trail link at kyhumane.org. We hope to see you and your furry friends for a day at the park!
Heather Hise is communications & public relations specialist for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and a 2012 graduate of the Leadership Louisville Center’s Ignite Louisville program. Heather is a Louisville native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Centre College. She is also a correspondent for BG Magazine-Greater Louisville. Heather will participate in the KHS Waggin’ Trail Walk for the Animals on behalf of her humane society cat, Josephine.