Rescue dog at CT humane society
Photograph: CT Humane Society/Twitter

Since its establishment in 1881, the Connecticut Humane Society has sought to place animals in loving, permanent homes and eliminate cruelty. The organization also provides shelter and medical services, outreach programs and a pet food pantry.Every animal with CHS is vaccinated, spayed or neutered and evaluated with a nationally recognized behavioral analysis program before being matched with an owner. Last year, the nonprofit served over 6,000 pets from its three branches in Westport, Newington and Waterford, CT.

Happy Endings

A winsome black-and-white cat named Adriana had been homeless for most of her four years of life when she was taken in by the CHS’s shelter in Westport last February. Overweight, with matted fur and a strong distrust of humans, Adriana needed to undergo eight months of steady medical care and patient attention from workers and volunteers to regain her health and sense of safety. In October, the lucky feline went home with a cat-loving family, a moment of deep accomplishment for everyone who had played a role in her care. “The most challenging aspect and the most rewarding aspect of working at the Connecticut Humane Society are different sides of the same coin,” says Barbara DeBellis Naugle, director of development at CHS. “While many of the pets that we find homes for are healthy from the start, many are not. We see some pretty horrible cases coming in the front door, as the result of animal abuse or neglect. But the other side of that story is a happy ending.”

Animal Activists 

Part of CHS’s work is preventing animal cruelty, as well as treating its effects. The Humane Society has a “strong presence” in the state capitol, Naugle says, and lobbies consistently for legislation to protect the welfare of animals. In 2013, CHS pushed for the passage of House Bill #6591, which makes it illegal for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to kill a pet in the state of Connecticut. The Humane Society has also made its voice heard in the community through education programs, including service projects for kids.

Meaningful Work

Volunteer Lee Feldman is drawn to the shyer, more skittish dogs under his care, the ones that take a little extra TLC and attention. Feldman, who began volunteering at the CHS shelter in Westport three years ago, regularly feeds, cleans, and walks dogs at CHS. He also conducts behavioral training and socialization. “Helping them open up and getting that first tail wag is a great feeling, particularly with the puppies and senior dogs,” Feldman says. “There’s a lot of talk today about finding purpose in work, whether that’s paid or unpaid. It’s hard for me to imagine a more purposeful way to invest your time; you get back way more than you put in.”

Contact: 455 Post Road East, Westport, CT, 203-227-4137, cthumane.org

How to Help

DONATE OR VOLUNTEER Give time (as a dog walker, “cat cuddler” or even answering phones) or money—both are always welcome and needed.

START A DRIVE CHS’s Pet Food Pantry collects donations for animals living with financially struggling families. Give food to a shelter or organize your own drive.

HAVE A BALL Join CHS’s annual fundraiser, the Faux Fur Ball, on Saturday, April 9, at the Hilton Mystic, in Mystic, CT. Tickets from $60 per person, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., cthumane.org