About 10 years ago, while volunteering at Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, Madeleine Laird, Emilie Beard and Melissa McKown noticed a problem: The shelter was overflowing. Nearly 16,000 animals a year came through the shelter's doors.
That meant 16,000 animals without a home, without proper vaccinations and wellness checks – potentially facing euthanasia.
Laird, Beard and McKown created the nonprofit H.O.P.E. for Animals, offering a solution to Allen County's animal overpopulation. H.O.P.E. stands for Human Organization for the Prevention of Euthanasia.
H.O.P.E. Executive Director Allison Miller has been working to improve animal welfare for 20 years.
“Our goal is to eliminate pet overpopulation and unnecessary euthanasia in the area,” Miller said. “And we've been making a big difference. We've helped decrease the euthanasia rate by nearly 90% and the intake by about 50%.”
Just like their clients, the organization needs a helping hand. H.O.P.E. for Animals is a local, low-cost, high-quality clinic providing spay-and-neuter services for dogs and cats. H.O.P.E. also provides low-cost vaccinations.
“We're one out of 100 high-volume, high-quality clinics in the U.S.,” Miller said, “and that's something we really take pride in.”
Miller and her team work to make sure everyone has affordable care for pets, lessening the likelihood that pets will be left at shelters or on the streets, Miller said.
Christen Polomchak, surgery supervisor at H.O.P.E., has been working at the clinic since January 2015 and has noticed the need in the community for its services.
“We're helping people keep their animals healthy and in their homes longer,” Polomchak said.
Miller said one client who has benefited from the clinic's services commented that the staff helped put her at ease and was “incredibly informative and compassionate.”
The clinic, with 22 employees including three veterinarians, performs about 62 surgeries a day and sees about 100 animals daily.
“It's given purpose to my life. It makes me feel like I'm truly making a difference in the community,” Polomchak said.
Each animal gets the same treatment, with the team working in a synchronized fashion to provide the services clients expect. The night before each surgery, the clinic asks owners to make sure their pet has fasted so the surgery can be performed on an empty stomach.
Afterward, they provide the animal with a meal.
“Each surgery, we know exactly what to do next,” Miller said. “Some would be overwhelmed by what we do. We call it managed chaos, but we love it.”
H.O.P.E. for Animals
1333 Maycrest Drive, Fort Wayne
Mission: To eliminate the preventable euthanasia of companion animals and community cats through low cost, high-quality spay/neuter and wellness services, by supporting rescue, and promoting responsible pet ownership. Has provided nearly 90,000 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to pets in need since 2010.
Wish List: Fragrance-free laundry detergent, bleach, 13- to 39-gallon trash bags, canned dog and cat food, unscented wet wipes
Drop-off: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday