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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

White River Humane Society Address Upper Respiratory Infection Cases at shelter

BEDFORD - SEPTEMBER 15, 2022 - The White River Humane Society tells the Lawrence County Zephyr it is addressing Upper Respiratory Infection cases at the shelter.

White River Humane Society officials gave the Lawrence County Zephyr a tour of their facilities and living conditions of the cats on Thursday afternoon. The White River Humane Society allowed us to take phots and video of the facility without any conditions.

The biggest thing noticeable is a pungent smell as you are at the entrance and front of the facility. However, facility was clean, but there were several cats and dogs at the facility located off Pumphouse Road.

Lawrence County Zephyr was made aware of complaints made by Pets Alive which is a spay/neuter clinic in Bloomington.

In a letter, Pets Alive on September 12, 2022, by Allison Hess, Executive Director of the organization she was concerned about observations of the facility and their partnership with the White River Humane Society. According to the letter they have partnered with the facility for more than a decade.

Pets Alive maintains that back in February the organization took a group of cats from the shelter that were too sick for surgery. The four sickest individuals were kept at Pets Alive for supportive care, one of them did not survive. With approval from the shelter, Pet Alive found the remaining cats a good home once they were healthy.

Over the past six months, it has been rare for the shelter to send a group of patients to us that were not all healthy enough for anesthesia. On one occasion, puppies had fevers and we called the shelter to come pick up the dogs. According to Pets Alive a shelter staff member asked how to take a dog temperature.

In August a group of 14 cats were brought in, 11 of those cats were too sick for surgery. Pets Alive adopted cats and nursed them back to health and found them good homes.

In September, Mrs. Hess toured the facility to see the conditions herself. According to Hess many of the cats were sick, and the staff seemed ill equipped to off basic medical care.

Pets Alive provide medication of Tobramycin and Doxycycline that effectively resolved the illness in the group of cats Pet Alive taken and treated. The medication protocol has been previously recommended, but no animals were receiving the treatment according to Hess.

It is alleged that the staff were unable to answer basic questions about protocols for cleaning, treatment of sick animals and euthanasia.

Pets Alive is no longer accepting animals that have been at the White River Humane Society for surgery until the URI is under control, in a building that smells terrible with no open windows, unclear cleaning protocols and staff not versed in basic animal care.

According to Hess the WRHS have been given numerous warnings and offers of assistance, resources and phone calls. The policy must be followed to prevent disease among 70 surgical patients in the care of Pets Alive.


White River Humane Society Admin Director Eden Stafford talked to the Lawrence County Zephyr about the issues and how the organization is working to provide care and homes for the dogs and cats at the shelter.

" The medications that Pets Alive recommended to us are making improvements. Our shelter is older, we have tried new cleaning products to help with the ventilation. We do not have the opportunity for a new building.

" In the last ten years, White River Humane Society has turned from a kill shelter to a pro-life organization. With this, we no longer put down an animal for a sniffle or a runny eye. Yes, our shelter is full, and yes germs spread more easily, but we do not want to become a kill organization again. We have issues of upper respiratory spreading because we give every cat a chance at survival, and we house a lot of animals. Every animal has a will to live, and no animal deserves to be put down because they are fighting the germs. It is so important that many people know why we are fighting to save lives because we do not want to become a shelter we were in the past. We won't let animals suffer, but we won't take their life just because they get the upper respiratory infection," said Stafford.

The White River Humane Society does not allow visitors to touch the cats, unless they plan to adopt them.

The White River Humane Society always needs financial support to help the organization, only 23 percent of their budget is provided by government agencies. The board of the Whiter River Humane Society is an all-volunteer board who puts in their time at the shelter.

The White River Humane Society is also under new management and that person is still learning more aspects of the organization. Coming soon is the "Rescue Robin" fundraiser with the group is hoping to raise $30,000 in 30 days.

Donations of cat food, and cleaning supplies is also being accepted.

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