The Greater Hillsdale Humane Society is located in Osseo. | Facebook

In light of ren­o­va­tions and the decline of COVID-19, the Greater Hillsdale Humane Society is now more acces­sible to both animals and volunteers.

Located at 3881 S. Tripp Road in Osseo, Michigan, the humane society serves the com­munity by shel­tering aban­doned cats and abused dogs. According to its website, the shelter was founded in 1974. It is ded­i­cated to the welfare and pro­tection of animals. 

Julia Bauer, pres­ident of the humane society, spoke about how the dogs and cats taken in by the shelter often are brought through no fault of their own. 

“When you see an animal that has been part of a family for a few years and they bring it to us, the animals are ter­rified. They just want to be loved and in a home where they can call forever.” Bauer said.

The Society operates as a 501©3 non­profit focused on pro­viding shelter, care, and nutrition to aban­doned and abused animals, in an attempt to relieve the suf­fering inflicted upon them. Most of the aban­doned animals come from Hillsdale County. Bauer said they also take in the overflow of some shelters across the United States.

“There is a Trello board that has shelters needing help. We heard about it through the Bissell Foun­dation. Other than our shelter helping the southern states, 99% of our animals come from Hillsdale County,” Bauer said.

The shelter picks up stray cats but is only allowed to receive dogs specif­i­cally brought in by their pre­vious owners. Bauer said this is due to a con­tract Hillsdale County has with the Branch County Animal Control.

“Unfor­tu­nately, there is a ten-year con­tract between the counties and it’s only been four years. So, they are bound to that con­tract for six more years.” Bauer said. 

The Humane Society is funded solely through dona­tions and operates with the help of regular vol­un­teers. When COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, the shelter was forced to close down its vol­unteer appli­ca­tions, which also affected its ren­o­vation plans.

“COVID-19 affected everyone, as for funding, we were for­tunate enough to keep getting dona­tions through all of this,” Bauer said. “We did have to close for vol­un­teers, but the director did make appoint­ments for adop­tions and sur­renders if we had space. We returned to normal on Oct. 6, 2020, with a few restrictions.”

The ren­o­va­tions were com­pleted, but according to their website, they were unable to begin fundraising to pay for some of the more costly improve­ments. Sophomore Meera Baldwin recently vol­un­teered at the shelter and she said was able to see the dif­ference the new ren­o­va­tions made.

“When you think ‘humane society’ you think dog pound, or at least I do,” Baldwin said. So, I was expecting a bunch of dogs in cages and it to be kind of grim, but they had it painted really nicely, it was like a very modern-looking building.” 

Bauer men­tioned the shelter is now open and hoping to welcome new vol­un­teers to help socialize the animals better. 

“It helps the animals to trust people and find a home that fits them,” Bauer said. 

Baldwin added that all the dogs were friendly and the puppies she played with were very sweet.

“It’s just nice to be around new animal life,” Baldwin said.

Bauer went on to describe the everyday process of working in the shelter, where the dogs are first given their med­ica­tions and then fed.

“After feeding, they are let outside while their kennels are being cleaned. Throughout the day, they are given playtime in the play yard or vol­un­teers come and walk them,” Bauer said. “Cats are put into the cat playroom while their cages are being cleaned. Once they are cleaned, they are put back so they can eat and usually they nap afterward.” 

 In addition to vol­un­teering, Bauer also rec­om­mended con­tributing to daily needs for both the animals and the regular employees at the shelter. Such needs include dog and cat food, cat litter, chairs for vol­un­teers, and laundry soap.

“Our most pressing needs besides vol­un­teers are daily sup­plies which can be found on our website,” Bauer said.