HAWS wins Chamber’s Choice


The Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) of Waukesha is the recipient of a 2008 Chamber’s Choice Award presented by the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce.

HAWS has managed to increase its annual revenue by nearly 85 percent over the last two years, climbing to $2.1 million in 2007, almost all of which has been donated or raised through minimal service fees, said Lynn Olenik, executive director.

HAWS assists more than 6,000 animals a year and has been serving the Waukesha community since 1965.

The organization is adding a 5,000-square-foot expansion to its 30 year-old facilities, having raised more than two-thirds of the $1.8 million project.

“Over the last 30 years, the demographics in our community have gone from rural to suburban,” Olenik said. “In that change, the demographic of animals has changed drastically.”

The facilities, which were designed to deal with large country dogs or cats, now are used for birds, exotics and other animals that weren’t widely considered pets 30 years ago.

Although the cat population has grown with the change in Waukesha’s demographics, the numbers are beginning to level off. The organization’s primary concern is with education, Olenik said.

“Without education, there is not a lot of hope for what we do,” she said. “Half of what we do here is education.”

The organization offers educational programs such as dog bite prevention, pet care and animal welfare issues. HAWS also has special programs such as working with several youth groups to promote respect, caring, and nonviolence.

“While we do deal with down-right abuse, we mostly see animals being neglected because people don’t know how to take care of them,” Olenik said. “HAWS is about people as much as it is about animals.”

The dog kennel was closed to public visitations, adoptions and the intake of new animals in May, due to a rare bacterial illness that causes respiratory failure. Seven dogs died of the disease at HAWS, while two, Bella and Raymond, were treated with a penicillin-based drug and have recovered, Olenik said.

It is the same disease that killed more than 1,000 dogs in Las Vegas and Miami earlier this year.

The daily public traffic was cut in half during the period. Treatment and cleaning measures that had been advised by veterinary and shelter experts have been completed, and adoptions and volunteer hours are back to normal, said Olenik.

“It’s been a long month,” she said. “The public is coming back, which is a real boost in morale. It makes a difference when we have our supporters around us.”

Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS)

Address: 701 Northview Road, Waukesha
Website: www.hawspets.org
Industry: Animal welfare organization
Revenues: $2.1 million
Employees: 33

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