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Our Views: New name Humane society of Southern Wisconsin is logical next step forward

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April 1, 2014

The new name Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin makes sense as the animal shelter in Janesville continues its transformation into a more welcoming, user friendly and economically viable agency.

The former name, Rock County Humane Society, led many people to incorrectly believe the shelter was part of county government and got partial funding through county tax dollars. Instead, the private nonprofit—governed by its own board of directors—has contracts with 21, or three-fourths, of the municipalities and towns in Rock County. Tax dollars pay for contracted services, but the shelter gets no direct tax money.

Having Rock County in its name also led families living outside the county to think they were ineligible to donate or adopt animals.

The humane society's board and Executive Director Brett Frazier worked together for months on the Southern Wisconsin rebranding, which was announced Friday. A service van got the new name and logos. A modern, inviting website, petsgohome.org, also was unveiled.

These are part of a remarkable overhaul that Frazier has led since taking charge from the embattled Angela Rhodes last year. Frazier is rebuilding bridges with municipalities and former supporters. Despite Friday's latest development, Frazier emphasized that the shelter's core mission remains.

“The most important thing is what's not changing—our focus on helping the lost and homeless pets of our community,” he said. “That has been a constant for 104 years. That's what we do and who we are.”

Given that donations provide 50 percent of revenues, Frazier said it's critical that people know the shelter is nonprofit and gets no tax dollars.

“We get a lot of folks who ask if they can donate or adopt if they don't live in Rock County, and of course our pets don't care what their mailing address is. It's just whether you have a soft couch, a warm spot by the fire or a sunny spot on the floor.”

The shelter mainly serves Rock County, but with about 152,000 residents here and more than 1,000 pets needing new homes each year, Frazier wants people who see pets on the website to realize they can get them no matter where they live.

“Even if you're looking for a place to volunteer, no matter where you live or where you pay taxes or where you call home, if you want to be a part of our organization, we want you to be,” he said.

Social media are playing a surging role in spreading the word. Frazier expects the new website to be a great leap forward. The agency almost doubled its Facebook following in the past nine months. That's helping the shelter be on pace to grow adoptions by about 20 percent this year.

“That's exciting stuff. That's what we do here. The biggest difference in the old way of thinking and the new is the very real understanding that it takes people to help pets, and the more people we've got, the more pets we can help. It's as simple as that.”

That, simply put, makes the name Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin a logical new step.



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