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The Humane Society for Greater Nashua: Helping New Hampshire Pets- and People

By Oliver Bok

Keebler, an eight year old stray Dachshund, was not in good shape when a Nashua resident found him on the street and brought him to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua (HSFN) in March, 2015. The dog could not move its hind legs, had a mouth full of diseased teeth, and a cancerous mass in one of his eyes.

Upon his arrival, staff at the Humane Society sprang into action: they contacted (headquartered in Amherst, NH), who donated one of their Walkin' Wheels (a wheelchair for the dog) so Keebler could move around again and asked the community for donations to fund the x-rays and surgeries that Keebler needed to get better. HSFN ended up raising over $2,500 for Keebler and watched his cuddly personality shine as his health improved.

Keebler's story is far from unique: the Humane Society helped 2089 dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, rats, and lizards in 2014, making the shelter the second busiest in New Hampshire.

According to Laurie Dufault, Director of Development at HSFN, the shelter cares for animals in a variety of ways.

"We provide haven for animals in need, nurture kittens and puppies until they are ready for adoption, provide medical care to make pets well enough to be adopted, act as a temporary home for pets that are displaced, and provide wellness services to owned pets in our community," Dufault says.

The Humane Society lives up to its name; the shelter strongly believes that pets should only be euthanized when the animals' suffering makes euthanasia the humane choice.

"No animal in our care is ever euthanized because we don't have room for them or simply because they've been in our care too long," Dufault says.

Dufault adds that pet overpopulation is a much bigger problem in other parts of the country, forcing shelters in states like Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Indiana to euthanize adoptable pets. For precisely that reason, HSFN's Dog Transport Program exists to save dogs and puppies who would likely be euthanized in high kill shelters in other states. Over the last eight years, HSFN has found homes for over 4,000 dogs transported by this program.

The shelter does not receive any funding from the government or national organizations like the ASPCA, Association for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals, or the Humane Society for the United States; HSFN needs local donors to function. But money isn't the only way residents contribute. In 2014, HSFN volunteers gave over 27,400 hours of their time to the shelter.

The help goes both ways: the Humane Society operates a pet food pantry to support low income pet owners. In addition, it runs a program named "Seniors for Seniors," in conjunction with the Pets for the elderly Foundation that gives senior citizens elderly pets at little to no cost. The shelter also runs a weekly clinic to provide affordable vaccines for owned dogs and cats. Perhaps most importantly, when a pet is in trouble, the Humane Society is there for the people, too.

"While we care for animals, the reality is we're also a human service agency providing important services and counseling to people in time of need," Dufault says. "We're here whether they are surrendering their own pet to us or bringing in a stray they've rescued. We also are a resource to reunite lost pets with their owners and connect pets with adopters and families."

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