(A nostalgic photo of a shelter manager and pups | Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Central Oregon)
The Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) is celebrating its 60th anniversary of serving the people and animals in our community. The shelter location, name and mission statement have changed over the decades, but compassionately caring for animals and providing services for our community remains at the heart of HSCO.
“The foundation of HSCO’s success is our community of supporters, adopters, volunteers, business partners, veterinarians and media partners that have helped improve the lives of animals in our county, and beyond, over the past 60 years,” said Sabrina Slusser, executive director of the Humane Society of Central Oregon. HSCO will celebrate the human-animal bond and share our story throughout the year.
In 1960, the population in Bend was 11,936, and 23,100 in Deschutes County. A small grassroots group of animal lovers decided that Bend needed a Humane Society. After research, fundraising and lots of hard work, the Deschutes County Humane Society became a reality on February 14, 1961.
Central to HSCO’s mission is to create a community responsible for animals. Thanks to a community supporting the programs and services of HSCO, the number of animals in HSCO’s care has decreased over the decades, despite the increase in population. Our community has been receptive to spaying and neutering to decrease pet overpopulation and humane education to improve the lives of all animals. Thirty years ago (Bend population 25,000) HSCO cared for 4,500 homeless and unwanted animals annually. Today, with a population four times as large, HSCO cares for 1,500 fewer animals.
HSCO programs and services have expanded and changed to meet the needs of the people and animals in our community. Today, the population in Bend is over 100,000 and Deschutes County comes in at around 200,000. In 2018, HSCO added the Bend Spay+Neuter Project to the organization, now called HSCO’s Bend+Spay Neuter Clinic. Currently, HSCO’s programs include adoptions, reuniting lost pets with their family, spay and neuter assistance, vaccine and microchip clinics, HOPE Pet Food Bank, community cat program, cremation services, humane education, youth and adult volunteerism and more. Donations provide housing, medical care, behavioral training and adoption for over 3,000 homeless, abandoned, neglected and abused animals annually at HSCO.
In 2020, HSCO expanded the HOPE Pet Food Bank to help people keep their pets during the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. To reach those suffering from food insecurity for themselves and their pets, the program expanded into the tri-county area with pet food being distributed to human food banks. The shelter continues to provide essential services to the community throughout the pandemic.
HSCO’s success is built on its volunteers, and much-needed support from the community. Volunteers contribute vital services to help care for the animals and generate revenue at our Thrift Store. At the core of HSCO’s shelter, thrift store and Bend Spay+Neuter clinic, you’ll find volunteers working in nearly every aspect of our organization. For more information on our programs, services and volunteering opportunities, visit hsco.org.
Help us celebrate and support the animals at the Humane Society of Central Oregon by purchasing a limited-edition mask for $15 (BlackStrap of Bend) or a long sleeved T-shirt for $24. HSCO 60th Anniversary items are available at HSCO shelter and thrift store.