“The fact that we’ve been here for 60 years is such a blessing and such a cause for celebration,” says Hinsdale Humane Society (HHS) Executive Director Lori Halligan. Though Lori tells us that they’re not normally the kind of people who throw themselves a party, HHS made an exception for their diamond anniversary—throwing not one, but two parties.
The first was a community-wide BBQ with hot dogs and cupcakes held in late August and attended by both two-legged and four-legged supporters of the society.
The second is “A Fetching Affair,” a black-tie optional gala to be held at Butterfield Country Club on October 26.
It’s a chance to toast the supporters, staff, and nearly 300 volunteers who help place animals in their forever homes and pay homage to the many community outreach programs HHS provides, including humane education and pet therapy.
The scope of HHS programs is really incredible. The largest and oldest program is Pet-a-Pet. Teams of pets and people visit area nursing homes and retirement centers to share conversation and warmth with the residents. The goal is to alleviate loneliness and boredom. “These visits can really jog the residents’ cognitive function,” says Lori. Reading Education Assistance Dogs visit schools and libraries so children can practice reading with completely nonjudgmental canine listeners. There are also Pediatric Therapy programs that team a pet and a pet handler with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or art therapist work with children to help them with anything from overcoming tactile intolerance to learning to walk again after an accident.
These programs and others spread the love and joy of pets throughout the community, and the community is happy to give back to the shelter. Christie Cuthbert, public relations and special events director, says, “Kids hold lemonade stands in the summer and fulfill wish lists for the shelter. People here are teaching their kids about giving, and they’re giving to HHS.” Lori adds, “People respond. People really feel connected to the shelter and to the pets.”
Because of this incredible support, the shelter is able to provide exceptional care to the animals. “We can give necessary surgeries. We can give heartworm treatments, which are very expensive,” says Lori.
A Fetching Affair will raise funds for both the special programs and general care of the animals. Attendees should wear their dancing shoes as an eight-piece band will play favorites from the past six decades. “We’re planning an evening that will appeal to people ranging in age from 30 to 90,” Christie says.
There will be stories shared of forever homes, the small triumphs achieved through the pet therapy programs, and of pet heroism.
This is a special milestone that deserves extra recognition. HHS has no plans to make the gala an annual event, making this quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “We’re being reflective of the last 60 years. We feel so fortunate to be a part of a place that really cares about the shelter and the pets,” says Lori.
Things You May Not Know About Hinsdale Humane Society
- About 25% of the animals available for adoption are purebred. Nearly 100% are adorable.
- There is a breed request program for families wishing for a certain kind of pet.
- Cat socializing, aka playing with kittens, is one of the most popular jobs for volunteers.
- It’s the home of the original Morris the Cat, adopted by animal handler Bob Martwick in 1968.
A Fetching Affair is Saturday, October 26 at Butterfield Country Club, 2800 Midwest Road in Oak Brook. Tickets may be purchased at hinsdalehumanesociety.org.
– Michelle Crowe // Photography by Joel Lerner