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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

West Suburban Humane Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: The West Suburban Humane Society is dedicated to operating a premier animal shelter for the purpose of finding safe, permanent and compatible homes to adopt domestic dogs and cats. We are committed to educating and encouraging the public to humanely care for dogs and cats.

Target demographics: homeless dogs and cats

Direct beneficiaries per year: 700 homeless animals

Geographic areas served: the western suburbs in Downers Grove

Programs: humane education programs, free id tags, lost and found referral service,

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WSHS has continued to excel in the care of its animals. Last year brought with it a new, cage-free cattery which has reduced stress and disease and has boosted adoptions. The love and respect both staff and volunteers have for every animal is inspiring.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The WSHS is an amazing facility where staff and volunteers treat adoptable animals as their own.

The physical health of each animal is of extreme concern. Every dog and cat taken in receives basic health care, plus, if necessary, a special diet (allergies, age, disability, etc.) or further veterinary care, for everything from mange and heartworm treatments to hip replacements and heart surgeries.

The mental health of the animals is also exceedingly important. Dogs and cats get daily playtime and interaction with numerous volunteers. Certain cats get "free roam" time around the building, and dogs with behaviors that may limit their adoptability are trained to become more ideal pets. Some dogs go on outings or "sleepovers" with volunteers. If an animal becomes particularly depressed, extra time is taken with him to ensure quality of life remains high while waiting for a home.

The relationship between staff and volunteers is excellent. There is a open line of communication. Volunteers are encouraged to relate any concerns to staff, allowing quick health care when needed, a constant flow of ideas, and happy, efficient volunteers. The staff has an impressive knowledge of each individual animal and, even after years of service, they are extremely dedicated.

The adoption process is thorough but not outrageous. Many questions are asked to tailor safe, happy, long-term matches between homes and pets. Before any animal is released, it is spayed/neutered (to prevent further pet overpopulation) and microchiped (a permanent form of identification).

WSHS is a no-kill shelter, meaning that no animal is ever put down for lack of space or for taking too long to get adopted. Only in extreme cases of health or aggression is euthanasia considered, and then only as a last resort, as it would be for a personal pet. West Suburban has rehabilitation and rehomed hundreds of dogs and cats who would have been deemed "unadoptable" in other facilities.

I could go on forever about why I am so pleased with the West Suburban Humane Society. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to adopt a dog or cat or to volunteer. It is an amazing experience.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WSHS definitely deserves a 5 star rating (I’d give ‘em 10 stars if I could). Their main concern is the welfare of the animals, not only their health but also their happiness & quality of life. The staff & volunteers truly do care about all the animals & love them as their own. It is run by a small, friendly, compassionate staff of employees and many caring volunteers. They rely heavily on volunteers & private donations since they do not receive any government funding, but because of this they are not required and really do try to avoid, at all costs, putting any animals down that they take in. They have a very successful training program; for both dogs & owners. They also have a wonderful foster program. Vaccinations, microchip, spay/neuter & 30 days pet insurance are all included in the adoption fee. So stop in today! I highly recommend visiting the WSHS for your next addition to your family. I know I will definitely adopt my next pet from there.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Over and over WSHS goes above and beyond to help dogs in need. They are adept at matching household need, wants and abilities with the appropriate dog. Their vast network of volunteers and foster homes speaks volumes to their dedication.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Adopting a dog from WSHS is a great move. All animals come with a 30 day health guarantee, neutering, microchip and are up to date on vaccinations. My fee for adopting my puppy was $200. The staff do a good job fitting your family with the right animal. Our puppy is now almost 4 years old and is the sweetest, smartest dog I ever knew!

There are many volunteer opportunities and they will take donations of money or supplies anytime!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A year and a half ago we went to the shelter to find the perfect dog for our family. We took one look and fell in love with Waylon. He was a 1 year old very high energy dog. West Suburban has a wonderful program that they work with a trainer. Before we brought Waylon home he spent a week with the trainer, this was all included with our adoption. We went to the trainer and we picked him up their. The trainer showed us everything Waylon learned and we we're able to bring him home. With those skills Waylon is the best dog!!
Shortly after Waylon's adoption I started volenteering at the shelter. It truely is amazing to see that side of things and how we all fall in love with these aniamals. I also have been fostering dogs through the shelter at my house. I am currently on my 6th foster and probaly one of the best stories. WSHS rescued this 3 month old puppy from Aniamal Control where he was going to be put down because he has a broken leg. Within a few days he went to the vet saw a surgeon had surgery and is recovering at my house. He will make someone very happy when he is able to be adopted!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have adopted several animals from this shelter and wouldn't go anywhere else. They provide more medical care than any other rescue I know of and they have been right on about the temperaments of the animals. The staff has always been thoughtful and thorough in helping us choose just the right cat or dog for our family's needs. they have also provided follow up support whenever we have had questions or concerns. WSHS is part of our pets' family and it's been a great relationship.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a proud volunteer at WSHS for more than a decade. While I can not speak of how other humane societies work, I believe that WSHS is unique.

This is a true low kill shelter. By that I mean, I know of low kill shelters who will put down animals with health conditions. I am not talking about terminal ones like cancer, I am talking about ones like hip dysplasia, heart worms... They do not want to be burdened with the cost to correct these issues. At WSHS, they do not see it as a burden, but as an opportunity to save a life, and enhance a persons life in the long run. They use the money to give ANY needed help to the animals in their care. It is not just those animals but ones brought to us in urgent need of vet care. We will take them pay for the care, even if we eventually have to give them to animal control due to lack of space.

Another unique quality of the shelter is the training of the dogs. Again I can not speak for other shelters, but we go above and beyond the call here. Like most shelters, we do a temperament testing on the dogs as they come in. When the need arises, we will send the dogs to off site training. This costs a lot of money, even with the deep discounts given by our trainers, yet we still do it regardless. We have specially trained volunteers call the "star" team. These volunteers spent extra time with our trainers to learn how to consistently train the dogs that have been through training. This assures that the dog gets the same commands, rewards and training time after time.
Now the shelter doesnt stop there. Where many shelters may do the training once, we will do it as many times as it takes. Even then there are dogs that just wont change. These dogs many times would be put down. Not at WSHS. We do everything we can to "fix" the dog, or get it to a a better place. Case in point, Pretender.
Now Pretender was a dog with MANY issues. Cat aggressive, didnt like females, would go for your face to bite among other issues. Pretender went through many rounds of off site training to no avail.
He was unadoptable due to his aggression issues. At most shelters he would have been put down much sooner. Not at WSHS. They found a dog sanctuary way out west. This sanctuary dealt with dogs like pretender and was willing to take him from us. There was only two catches, 1 getting him to Oregon, 2) figuring out what to do with him in the mean time. He was literally going mad, caged up at the kennel. So the shelter sent out a email to the volunteers asking for donations, 1 for the plane ticket out to Oregon, 2) for enough money to keep him in a boarding facility until he could be transported to the sanctuary. The money started rolling in. The volunteers at the shelter, even those who did not even work with the dogs, donated enough money to pay for the boarding and for the flight. Because the shelter and the nature of it's volunteers, Rootbeer, a dog which would have been put down a long time before he found his forever home, got a new lease on life. That just about says it all for what this shelter is, and the volunteers who man it.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

West Suburban Humane Society is a wonderful place for animals to wait for their forever homes. Each animal is taken care of and loved as a family member.
Some of our animal favorite things are:
A wonderful apple tree in one of our play yards, and in the fall, the dogs love to eat the apples, if they don't like apples, they have apple balls to play with while they last.
In the summer the kiddie pools come out and the dogs can take a refreshing dip. Dogs that don't know about the joys of cooling off in a pool will think it is a giant water bowl.
Now, dogs who reside here in the winter have a huge snow mountian to play on, if weather permits. And this year we have the best one ever, thanks to the blizzard ,and a wonderful volunteer who hauls the snow in the play yard and transforms it into the best obsticle course known to dogs.
Our dogs can go on sleep overs with staff and volunteers and even take outings to parks and events.
Now, the cats are not slighted, they have play areas and windows with bird feeders outside to watch, and cat towers to climb on. Also ,lots of laps to curl up on. The cats also get time to roam in the front office.
I really could go on forever at how great our shelter is and how proud I am to be a part of the family there.
We are hoping for a new shelter one day because our facility is not much to look at but it's heart is wonderful

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I need help the staff of West Suburban came to my rescue when no one else did. They have remained in touch and helpful as I help two special needs dogs. I couldn't ask for more.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a 12 year West Suburban volunteer and repeat adopter (4 very special dogs) over the years, I have seen so many animals rescued from hopeless situations and given homes and new lives. West Suburban Humane Society is a top notch shelter that truly cares about the physical and mental well being of all its animals. All animals are comfortalbly housed, recieve general and, if needed, specialized health care. Dogs who come to the shelter exhibiting behaviors that compromise their adoptability become "STAR" (Special Training And Reinforcement) dogs. They are sent to school to learn the kind of behaviors that will make them more adoptable. Upon their return to the shelter, they are only handled by specially trained volunteers and staff, who continually work on reinforcing the good behaviors they learned at dog school. Additionally, animals who are too stressed to live in a shelter environment or have certain medical conditions, are placed in loving foster homes and nutured until they are adopted or safely able to be returned to the shelter population. I could write pages about all the wonderful success stories, but let me suffice to say that any homeless animal that is lucky enough to find its way to West Suburban Humane Society can expect to look forward to the best days of its life!

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WSHS is a shelter that truly has the best interests of the animals at the core of its operations. All animals are given their best chance at getting adopted here! From the volunteers spending extra time outside of their normal shifts to socialize the animals, the attentionstaff gives to any special needs the animals may have, or the great long-term training programs WSHS sends some of the dogs to on a regular basis to make them even more adoptable, West Suburban really goes the extra mile!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

WSHS has long been an admired organization in our community. Our family adopted a dog named Shadow after our previous dog, Lucy, passed way after many years. Shadow has shown to be a wonderful addition to our fmily, in large part due to the "matching" done by the WSHS staff in making sure we were good for her and she was a good fit for us. These days, our oldest daughter volunteers at WSHS most every week and loves the chance to contribute in a variety of ways. Heck, this past Christmas our daughter tried her darndest to make arrangements for us to adopt yet another dog. However, three is enough right now!! LOL! Overall, I have to say the team at WSHS is not only passionate and skilled, they are sensitive to a visitor's needs and desires...even when we go to just visit the dogs, let alone when we go to drop off a check. GREAT organization and one worthy of special recognition and extra financial support!

Stephanie S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

West Suburban Humane Society is an amazing organization. My family and I adopted a dog almost two years ago and she is doing awesome. I am now a volunteer here and have been volunteering for almost 6 months now. I deeply enjoy working with the dogs and watching them get adopted into homes. This is one of the few few shelters that does NOT euthanize there dogs after being there for a certain amount of time. The shelter works extremely hard to keep its doors open and to provide the dogs, adopters, and volunteers the best facility they can. I believe that with this potential giveaway, they would help to build the shelter bigger and more efficient so that they can help even more dogs and cats out there. WSHS definitely deserves this award/ giveaway for all there hard work.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering at WSHS over a year ago. I had spare time and felt that volunteering with dogs at a local humane society was just the right thing. Turns out, it has been more rewarding than I even imagined. My time at WSHS has also taught me alot about dog behaviors, vaccinations and other helpful knowledge. The staff at WSHS is always awesome - they are friendly, helpful, and superbly knowledgable. The shelter is small, old and in need of alot of repairs - but the hearts of the volunteers and staff show that no matter how delapidated we are, we are still there to save and nurture and dogs and cats that need us the most. It has been a pleasure volunteering my time here, even during my evening cleaing and socializing shift when it's 10 degrees outside -- nothing can compare to the joy of seeing the dogs happy that someone is there to spend time with them.

Review from Guidestar

Lorie B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After adopting a pet from WSHS and providing financial support through donations, I decided I wanted to do more. I began volunteering about 6 months ago and haven't looked back. My only regret is that I don't have more time to spend there.

I have a pretty demanding job and having the chance to work with the animals is a great stress reliever, but also a great way to stay distracted from the demands of my work.

It goes without saying that without a staff at WSHS to make it all work well, I wouldn't be there. I know they have hundreds of volunteers, and to manage that large a group and be successful in their mission is impressive. The dedication of all of their staff is what makes it work. As volunteers we often miss the "operations" or "business" side of the house that make the whole thing tick. And frankly, when we don't see it, you know they are doing well. They keep their "army" of volunteers informed and motivated though regular communication (in-person and through a weekly e-mail, as well as other updates).

Finally, their STAR dog program is impressive. Any shelter that has a "no-kill" policy must be dedicated to the rehabilitation of animals who are oftentimes "bad" (or scared, or aggressive, or shy) because of their past interactions with humans- not because the animals themselves bad. WSHS sets a great example for any shelter on how any dog, and I mean any dog, can be re-homed to the right family.


Review from Guidestar

Curtis E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great shelter that helps out any animal they can. All the volunteers are fantastic and love the animals; treat them as if they were their own.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer at a shelter in Frankfort, Indiana. The WSHS has saved five of our dogs and two of our cats that otherwise would probably have been put to sleep. We are an open admission, animal control shelter in a rural county and often have to 'make room' for incoming animals. So far, four of the dogs have already been adopted. The longest any of them were at WSHS was about two weeks. I can't thank them enough for all they do to save lives.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WSHS goes above and beyond to help the animals in need. They don't turn down an animal simply because they are sick or have behavioral issues. They simply refuse to give up on any animal. Those that are ill, they take to the vet and get then well. Those that have behavioral problems they send for special training so they become adoptable. They have always been supportive of the dogs that I pull from a hi-kill pound, give them services, and get them adopted.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered at WSHS for over three years now. Every person involved with WSHS is extremely dedicated to the animals. They take exceptional medical and behavioral care of everyone. WSHS forms a community brought together by a love of animals and desire to create a better world. I'm extremely honored to be part of such an inspiring organization.

Danielle P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I brought home my forever friend Bailey almost 6 years ago and it still feels like yesterday. The WSHS is a wonderful place to find a furry friend who needs a home. Everyone there is so friendly and helpful, you are able to interact with the dog or cat to see if it's a match. They really care about where the pet will live which is important so they pet is in a safe environment and won't be brought back. I love the events the WSHS holds, I attend the Barkapoalooza every year and it gets better every year! Owning a pet is a huge responsability, butif you're ready go to the WSHS there are so many wonderful amazing animals waiting to be loved and the staff is there ready to help!

Review from Guidestar