Cover Stories

Legacy of Care: Humane Society of Missouri

When it was founded in 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri’s mission was to “promote humane sentiments among all classes.” While the wording may be a little outdated, 150 years later, the principle remains the same: There’s no excuse for animal abuse. The nonprofit has always been dedicated to the abused and neglected, and today it provides important care for animals in need. Along with being the largest provider of adoptable pets in Missouri, it is dedicated to ending the cycle of abuse and overpopulation through rescue efforts, spay and neuter programs, and educational classes.

The organization didn’t begin with the rescue and adoption services it’s known for today. It was created to help mistreated workhorses. “Many people are surprised to learn that our roots are in the horse world,” president Kathy Warnick says. “Later, in the 19th century, we added children to our roster since there weren’t many organizations looking out for their welfare at the time.” The nonprofit worked closely with police to ensure abusers were held accountable, and in the 1920s, it started providing veterinary services and built its first animal shelter for dogs and cats.

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,” Warnick explains. “They rescue animals so our veterinarians and shelter staff can provide 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 called to locations across the country to aid in rescues during natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. A more recent initiative the organization is proud of is SNIP, the Spay/Neuter Incentive Program, which launched in 2001. Since the nonprofit began tracking procedures, it has spayed or neutered more than 400,000 animals to help reduce pet overpopulation in St. Louis.

The Humane Society is independently funded, so donations are integral to its survival. They directly support services and initiatives like SNIP and the Animal Cruelty Task Force. “Community support is absolutely essential, allowing us to oontinue in our quest to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome abused and neglected animals,” Warnick says. “Without sufficient help, we would be forced to leave animals in the hands of their abusers.” In recognition of its 150th anniversary, the nonprofit is launching a special campaign featuring a familiar face as spokesperson: St. Louis native Andy Cohen.

Warnick notes that while the Humane Society is optimistic about this milestone year, it is prepared to pivot plans as the COVID-19 situation evolves. That ability to quickly respond and adapt to challenges has served the organization well during the pandemic. It was able to implement curbside operations so adoptions and medical services could continue. “We are really proud to have placed more than 445 animals in homes, and we’ve conducted more than 2,000 veterinary visits since the onset of the pandemic,” she says. “We’re very fortunate to have the support of individuals who love animals. Thanks to that generosity, we’ve been a voice for the voiceless for 150 years, and we plan to continue for the next 150.

For 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 education classes. Pictured on the cover: Humane Society President Kathy Warnick with Andy Cohen. For more information, call 314.951.1542 or visit hsmo.org.

Cover design by Cydney Moore
Cover photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri

Pictured at top: Rescuing animals has been a vital part of the Humane Society’s Mission since 1870.
Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri

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