Waukesha County shelters form partnership to save cats’ lives
HAWS took in 3,200 felines in 2014, EBHS 1,000-plus

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

April 29, 2015

An adoptable cat sits in his cage at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County on Tuesday.  
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - In an effort to make Waukesha County a “no-kill community,” the Elmbrook Humane Society and Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County have formed a partnership that will result in EBHS taking in some of the cats and kittens that HAWS doesn’t have the space to house at its Waukesha facility.

HAWS Executive Director Lynn Olenik said last year HAWS took in 3,200 cats and euthanized 1,049 of them. Because HAWS serves rural areas of the county, it seizes and captures more stray cats than EBHS. As a result, EBHS sometimes has more space available than HAWS, so it decided to step in and help save more cats’ lives.

 

Overwhelmed by cats

In past decades, Olenik said shelters would be flooded with dogs that needed new homes and cats were often integrated into the fabric of the community, especially on farms. As the land became more developed, those stray or barn cats would be captured and turned over to the animal shelters.

Olenik said HAWS handles a significant amount of animal control for municipalities around the county, including seizures. While EBHS also works with seven area municipalities for animal control, its services are needed less often.

“It is harder for us to manage the stray, incoming cats we have,” Olenik said. “They (EBHS) have offered to help out. To me that is huge.”

A pair of adoptable cats look out from their enclosure at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

As a result of the partnership, when EBHS has space to take in more felines, it will call HAWS first before other animal organizations in the area.

“They are going to work with us as members of the Waukesha community,” Olenik said. “Hopefully in five to 10 years, it will be a no-kill community in Waukesha.”

Currently both HAWS and EBHS euthanize some animals that are too sick to adopt. HAWS also euthanizes animals that are not temperamentally sound. If an animal has a reparable or manageable health problem, HAWS will still put it up for adoption.

The summer months of June, July, August and September are the busiest for admitting stray cats because that’s when kittens are generally born, Olenik said. People are also spending more time outside then and finding stray cats. During the peak time, HAWS will take in about 38 to 40 cats per day and will offer shelter to approximately 3,200 cats per year. The 1,049 cats that HAWS euthanized in 2014 represented a 38.16 percent decrease since the organization started the Project Guardian Program in 2005, which offers free spay and neuter services for outdoor cats brought in for the surgery. In 2004, HAWS euthanized 1,810 cats, almost 42 percent more than in 2014.

An adoptable cat is petted at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Last year, HAWS performed about 500 spay and neuter surgeries on outdoor cats as part of the Project Guardian Program, which is funded by donors.

 

Stepping in to help

EBHS Executive Director Heather Gehrke said the two Waukesha County groups were exploring ways to work together, and about six months ago Olenik suggested gathering animal welfare groups to discuss how to handle the cat overpopulation. From that discussion came the idea to have EBHS take in cats from HAWS.  About 60 percent of EBHS’ adoptable animals already come from other organizations, which is somewhat unusual, Gehrke said.

“We have a fairly responsible pet community, which is just fantastic,” Gehrke said of the Elm Grove and Brookfield area.

A two-week-old kitten at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County on Tuesday. The kitten is being hand-raised, then going to a foster home before becoming available for adoption.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

In a position to help other shelters, Gehrke said EBHS wants to do whatever it can.

“We are here to help and that is something we are honored to be able to do,” she said.

In 2014, EBHS took in about 1,159 cats and were able to find homes for 1,098 for a homing rate of 95 percent, Gehrke said.

The shelters are asking for communitywide support to ensure the success of this partnership, including monetary donations, foster homes and supplies such as kitten formula and cat or kitten food and litter. Donations can be made on either of the shelters’ websites, by phone or in person.

 

By the numbers

HAWS took in 3,200 cats and euthanized 1,049 of them in 2014.

EBHS took in 1,159 cats and euthanized 61 in 2014.

38.16 percent decrease in cats euthanized by HAWS since the organization started the Project Guardian Program in 2005.

500 spay and neuter surgeries provided for free by HAWS for outdoor or stray cats.

 

Chinchillas are closer to finding homes


WAUKESHA -As the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County continues to work with the owners of more than 300 chinchillas that were seized from their home, an adoption waiting list has grown for the furry little animals.

One of more than 300 chinchillas peers out of a cage on Tuesday at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

On March 29, HAWS worked with the Waukesha Fire and Police departments to take control of more than 300 chinchillas that were located in a home, which was found unfit for the human and animal residents.

HAWS Executive Director Lynn Olenik said legal work is almost completed for finding the animals new homes.

“We are working with the owner to surrender the great majority of them and we are working with the city attorney’s and district attorney’s offices to come up with an agreement that will satisfy everyone. We are hoping to come to some conclusion by the end of the week,” she said.

A mother chinchilla and her two babies at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

First reports in March said that HAWS took in 330 chinchillas, but some of those were dead. HAWS currently has 317 chinchillas, some of which are babies because pregnant ones have since given birth and more may be born while in HAWS’ care.

While some of the animals will be adopted locally, Olenik said HAWS will also look to other organizations for help.

-Katherine Michalets, Freeman Staff

www.ebhs.org

http://hawspets.org

Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com