By Greg Seiter // Photography submitted
Anne Sutton is an animal lover. In her role as executive director for the Humane Society Johnson County (HSJC), she has to be one. However, Sutton’s passion for animals goes far beyond striving to ensure they have adequate food, water and shelter.
“Working with the beloved animals in our care is truly humbling,” she said. “The animals we typically encounter have been through so much in their life but they still have an innate ability to forgive and love while maintaining joy and happiness to share with us. It is incredible to be part of their next journey in life and show them love, compassion and healing from a human hand.”
What is the role of Humane Society Johnson County?
We are a 501©3 not-for-profit organization that strives to benefit our community by enhancing companionship between animals and humans through adoption, education and advocacy programs.
We work tirelessly to place homeless animals into loving forever homes.
We have active community outreach programs with schools and youth groups, including Girl and Boy Scout troops, local libraries and businesses.
We use our social media platforms at our facility to advocate for the animals who don’t have a voice.
What do you like most about your job?
There are so many aspects of this job I enjoy. The best part is working for an organization that is truly committed to making life better for animals. HSJC is striving to bring affordable pet services to all members of our community. The staff and board at HSJC are all working in unison to bring services to Johnson County to help ensure animals and families can stay together whenever possible.
What are some of the organization’s biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge of this job is the number of animals in need. There is never enough space, enough resources or enough money to help them all. It can become discouraging if you let it. We focus on the animals we have on hand and give everything we have to each and every one of them. Whether that means multiple tests, behavioral consults, medicine or even hospitalization, we do it.
The loss of an animal at our facility is inevitable, and compassion fatigue is a real thing. We must be cognizant of that. So we try to check in with each other on a regular basis to see how we are feeling.
There is definitely a balancing act happening because we do deal with the well-being and livelihood of living animals.
What changes and new offerings has HSJC implemented in recent times?
Through a partnership with the Banfield Foundation, we have been able to implement four free vaccine clinics in our community since 2021.
HSJC has been committed to looking for ways to improve our facility. So this year, as a perpetual fundraiser, we launched our Memorial Garden that has sculptures to honor dogs and cats who have died. It gives people an opportunity to order engraved memorial tags that will hang on our garden sculptures as a tribute to their beloved animal.
What is HSJC’s vision for the future growth of community services?
We would love to expand our services to include local spay/neutering services while continuing with the transportation services we currently provide.
We have discovered that most people want to do right by their animals. They want to provide medical care, food and a good home. Unfortunately, it is the lack of resources and expenses that get in the way of providing proper care for pets. We know that we must get more affordable resources out to the public so we can eliminate unwanted litters.
The difficult part of growth is looking for new grant opportunities and funding to increase services while not stretching our staff of three too thin.
We are excited and look forward to expanding services as the opportunity for funding presents itself.