THE HUMANE SOCIETY & SPCA OF HANCOCK COUNTY A Brief History
On June 18, 1888, residents of Hancock County who were concerned with issues related to animal welfare and control, including education, incorporated the Humane Society of Hancock County. Throughout the next 70 to 80 years, due to the loosely structured and undocumented nature of animal care, there is little information readily available; so the work of the Society is a mystery, but remains an ongoing research project.
On September 20, 1969, Miss Ann Rieck, a lover of animals, leased her farm in Amanda Township to the Society to be used as a shelter. Volunteers made things habitable and constructed kennels. The first adoptions completed at the shelter were those animals found on the farm when the volunteers first arrived. The Humane Society was also reincorporated in 1969.
Early 1970’s highlights included:
- The appointment of the first Humane Agent.
- The first rabies vaccination clinic was held.
- A “Kindness Club” was organized.
- The first newsletter was written and distributed to the membership.
- Under a special agreement with the County Auditor, the Society was permitted to sell dog licenses.
- William O’Brien Nature Trail was planned.
- Mary Brewer Ferguson designed the Society’s logo.
Of the more than 2,800 calls the Society received in 1974 included: an opossum in a garage, pet raccoons in a tree, an injured pigeon, a dove on a windowsill, a cat in a cistern, an owl in a fireplace, and a vicious dog holding up a funeral procession.
In 1978, at age 85, Ann Rieck lifted the first shovel of dirt towards construction of a new shelter at the farm. Later, Miss Rieck received a citation from the Humane Society of the United States for her generosity and assistance in establishing the Humane Society of Hancock County. In 1985, the shelter was renamed the “Ann Rieck Memorial Shelter.” In the same year, the Humane Society Foundation was established by the President of the Foundation, Robert F. Sprague.
In 1986, Pat Cannon became the first Executive Director of the Humane Society. The Hancock County Commissioners donated space for an executive office in the Hancock Air Terminal building.
The year of 1987 saw the donation of a computer and word processing was installed, thrusting the Society into the world of high technological animal care.
With the Society’s ever-increasing desire to serve the community, the services of the Dog Warden combined with the Humane Society in December 1990. The Society operated from three different locations until the present Adoption Center, at 4550 Fostoria Avenue, was completed in March 1991.
In 2007, the Spay/Neuter Clinic was added to the Society and averages more than 450 surgeries per year lowering pet overpopulation in the county.
2009 saw the creation of the Pet Food Bank to assist low income Hancock County residents with feeding their pets. From generous community donations the Pet Food Bank is available during certain hours Tuesday through Friday once every 30 days for county residents showing proof of need.
The Society still relies heavily on volunteers and volunteer programs have been greatly expanded throughout the years. The Pet Pal Program ensures that all dogs are walked at least once per day every day Monday through Saturday. Pet Pal volunteers also socialize cats available for adoption to increase adoption potential. Share-A-Pet Program volunteers take animals currently available for adoption to visit the residents of nursing and adult care facilities in Hancock County. This wonder program allows for therapeutic purposes which improves the mental and physical health of people of all ages and assists with pet exercise and socialization to increase adoption potential. The Society considers its volunteers one of its most valuable assets.
The Ann Rieck Memorial Adoption Center has proven a resounding success as more and more people have visited and adopted pets. State of the art programs and services will be the catalyst to propel the Society into the future.