For more than 50 years, the Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) has been finding homes for homeless animals and educating Waukesha, Wisconsin, residents on animal welfare issues. Today, the shelter accommodates more than 8,000 animals annually, and has grown to include a 77-acre horse farm (soon to be transformed into an education and training resource center) along with an affordable veterinary medical clinic.
Lynn Olenik, executive director for the non-profit, says the group’s balanced approach to animal welfare enables it to impact the animals within the shelter’s walls as well as educate and support pet owners in the community. In addition to traditional animal shelter and adoption services, HAWS offers animal training and behavior classes, a low-cost veterinary clinic and other initiatives designed to help pet owners keep their four-legged friends healthy and happy at home. Olenik credits these efforts, along with a successful spay/neuter program, with a 70% reduction in euthanasia.
Like many non-profits, HAWS relies on a dedicated group of volunteers to carry out its ambitious mission. Cindy Pechanch is one of those hard-working animal lovers, spending hours cleaning litter boxes and walking dogs, in addition to serving on the group’s board of directors. While she’s given hundreds of hours to the organization, Cindy insists she’s gotten far more in return. “Taking in a scared, wounded, shut-down animal and watching them grow into a happy, confident and content critter is the most rewarding process to watch,” Cindy says.
Lynn concurs, but goes one step further, noting the important role animals play in many people’s lives – her own included. “Animals foster good will, create connectivity and are resilient role models for us to emulate,” she says. “From them we can learn and teach compassion, unconditional love and nurturing, which in turn builds character and creates a stronger, kinder community.”