When it was founded in 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri was dedicated to helping abused and neglected draft horses. Now more than 150 years later, the nonprofit has broadened its mission to advocate for cats, dogs and other domesticated animals, but it still has the same commitment to protecting those in need by offering important care. Along with being the largest provider of adoptable pets in Missouri, it is committed to ending the cycle of abuse and overpopulation through rescue efforts, spay and neuter programs, and educational classes.

In the 1950s, the Humane Society Animal Cruelty Task Force was founded. “This group is highly trained and investigates cases of abuse and neglect throughout the entire state of Missouri,” president Kathy Warnick explains. “They make sure we can provide animals the care needed for rehabilitation and adoption so they can have a chance at a happy, healthy life.” The team doubles as a crisis response unit that is called across the country to aid in rescues during natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. To better help animals during their rehabilitation, the Humane Society recently opened a new rescue center at its Macklind Avenue location. The facilities offer an increased capacity and special isolation rooms for sick and injured animals.

Another of the nonprofit’s initiatives is SNIP, the Spay/Neuter Incentive Program. Since it launched in 2001, the program has treated more than 425,000 animals to help reduce pet overpopulation in St. Louis. Warnick notes that community support is especially important for SNIP. “In the last 12 to 18 months alone, the cost to perform each surgery has increased sixfold,” she says. “We are dedicated to continuing to offer free or low cost spay and neuter services. It’s something that we need to do for the overall health and wellbeing of animals in St. Louis.”

The rising cost of providing care isn’t the only critical expense the Humane Society is facing. This July, the massive flooding caused extensive damage to the nonprofit’s Best Buddy Center in Maryland Heights. “We had 24 inches of water in our lower level, where we house more than 100 animals,” Warnick says. “We were able to remove all of them safely, but the water did around $1.5 million in damage.” The Humane Society is independently funded, so donations and community support are essential to ensuring it can continue offering services and meet emergency needs.

To help spread awareness about its mission, the Humane Society is launching a new campaign with actor John O’Hurley. “While most people know him from Seinfeld, he’s a celebrated animal ambassador and co-host of the Purina National Dog Show—so he’s passionate about our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and care for animals,” Warnick notes. “The Humane Society has been in existence for more than 150 years, and we plan on being here for at least another 150. We definitely need the support of St. Louisans to continue. We are lucky to be part of a community that is so caring and generous in its support of animals in need.”

For more than 150 years, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to providing care for animals in need. Its mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through rescue and investigation efforts, spay and neuter programs, and educational classes. Pictured on the cover: Humane Society president Kathy Warnick with actor and animal-welfare advocate John O’Hurley. For more information, call 314.951.1542 or visit hsmo.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri

Pictured at top: The Animal Cruelty Task Force investigates thousands of annual abuse reports annually.
Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri.