Valley News – Out & About: Human society turns to social services


Posted: 8/8/2021 21:53:54 PM

Modified: 8/8/2021 21:53:56 PM

ENFIELD – When people think of animal shelters, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is adoption.

But this is often only a fraction of the field of work that human societies take on. An increasing part of their work is focused on social services, which the Upper Valley Humane Society keeps at the forefront as staff and board members begin to work on a strategic plan after receiving a $ 5,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

“We try to keep the animals out of the shelter and in the homes we are in, they are already loved,” said Nikki Grimes, executive director of UVHS. “I am not speaking outside the term to say that social services will absolutely be part of the strategic direction. What it looks like exactly, I can’t speak to, but social services are absolutely a top priority. ”

For UVHS, that means hosting a pet pantry for people who need help feeding their animals.

Its commitment to social services also includes increasing its low cost sterilization / sterilization clinics, including a sterilization program for moms. which allows owners to bring their cats and kittens to UVHS where all will be sterilized. Then, shelter staff find homes for the kittens.

The organization has also updated its emergency boarding house to make it less stressful for the animals that stay there. When people need hospital treatment for drug or alcohol abuse or need to stay in hospital for an extended stay, UVHS staff can look after their pets.

“There are options for people to keep the animals they love, the animals love them, despite the very real things they go through in their lifetime,” Grimes said. “Adoption is important. Our community absolutely wants animals, but it is true that a large part of our work consists of additional services for the community.

Another task UVHS staff have focused on with the help of volunteers is trap-sterilization-return programs where they capture feral cats and neuter and vaccinate them before releasing them to their colony. They recently completed a TNR project involving 30 cats in Hartford.

“It’s going to make this neighborhood healthier,” Grimes said.

As of Tuesday, there were 75 animals at UVHS. In 2016, the animals stayed “well over 100 days, almost 125 days,” Grimes said. Last year it came down to 26 days. The no-slaughter standard for shelters to maintain their no-slaughter status is 90% and UVHS ‘is close to 97%.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Grimes said, UVHS expected to receive animals from people who died from COVID-19. While this has not proven to be the case in the Haute Vallée, the pandemic has drawn more attention to the ways in which pets can be affected by the upheavals in the lives of their owners.

“We’re going to have to reflect on what this pandemic has taught us about Social Security,” Grimes said. “The overall housing crisis in the Upper Valley, with the market being as high as with the lower stock, this will certainly have an impact on the animals in the Upper Valley.”

Everything is interconnected, said Grimes. It always has been, but now more and more people understand this and are being pushed to do something about it. One of the projects UVHS is focusing on is how to provide pet care to homeless people. They also work with people open to adopting animals that might have medical or behavioral issues.

“We have a lot of animals that have behavioral or medical needs and we would really take advantage of some people who have behavioral training or who are interested in animal behavior to come forward for certain adoptions with special needs,” Grimes said.

Volunteers are needed to help with UVHS ‘TNR program, walk the dogs and help with cleanups. Later, people will be needed to help paint UVHS for the first time in 20 years.

“If I could get one message across, it would be today that animal welfare is about social services… which help animals stay in their homes where they are already loved. We all go through difficult times for various reasons, ”said Grimes. “This is how we take care of the animals in our community.

Liz Sauchelli can be contacted at

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