Kenosha’s Safe Harbor Humane Society
(SHHS), also known as the Kenosha County Humane Society, will become part of the Wisconsin Humane Society
(WHS) as part of an acquisition plan announced Wednesday by the two organizations.
“Nonprofit animal shelters operate with limited resources, and it is even more difficult because every organization is separate and has to individually fund their overhead costs,” said Alison Fotsch Kleibor, president and chief executive officer of WHS, which operates shelters in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Brown, and Door Counties, as well as the Spay/Neuter Clinic in West Allis.
“By consolidating both organizations’ experience and resources, we can not only strengthen our efforts, but also provide a better return on investment for the communities that support this critical work for animals,” Fotsch Kleibor added.
Facing economic challenges that threatened the future of their work, SHHS leadership reportedly reached out to WHS last fall about ways to ensure the continuation of animal sheltering and other services in the Kenosha community, a WHS press release states.
The two organizations then worked together to solidify a plan for acquisition that will allow WHS to bring efficiencies and innovative approaches to the shelter operations in the SHHS site at 7811 60th Ave., and ensure that service to animals and families continues uninterrupted in the Kenosha community.
“This is truly the best thing that could have happened for the Safe Harbor Humane Society,” said Bill Bohlman, SHHS’s board president. “In the end, the animals win, the staff win, the community wins. The resources and stability that WHS can bring to the region will strengthen our ability to serve animals in need.”
The SHHS acquisition marks the fifth organization that has approached the Milwaukee-based WHS to explore a merger. In 2004, WHS acquired the Ozaukee Humane Society, and in 2013, it acquired the Countryside Humane Society in Racine. Both the Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay and the Door County Humane Society became part of WHS in 2018.
“As Wisconsin’s oldest animal welfare organization, WHS has always worked to identify and respond to the most pressing needs of animals,” said Fotsch Kleibor. “Today, the fragmentation of animal welfare into so many different organizations has created a new need: The need to support vital work for animals with strong, simple infrastructure. We’ve seen first-hand how local organizations face significant risks to sustainability when each one is a separate silo that must reinvent every wheel.”
Both WHS and SHHS were already committed to finding a home for every treatable and safe animal, no matter how long it takes, and this approach will continue under the new partnership. In addition, the organizations expect that this acquisition will bring more resources for medical and behavioral care to animals in Kenosha County.
The organizations are working jointly to make the transition as smooth as possible. Amanda Cutler will serve as the shelter director of what will soon be called the Wisconsin Humane Society Kenosha Campus. She is the current executive director of SHHS and has been with the organization for 11 years. WHS will also be hiring for new positions to support the expanded work. As has been the case with all of WHS’s prior acquisitions, there are no plans to lay off staff or reduce pay.
“We have so much to look forward to – a partner that can offer everything from best practices in shelter medicine, to health insurance and benefits for our staff, to innovative approaches to adoption,” said Cutler.
The boards of both organizations voted unanimously in April to approve the acquisition of Safe Harbor by WHS, pending final stages of due diligence, including agreements with municipalities as well as satisfactory title reports on real estate. WHS hopes to close the transaction as early as May 31.
“We are incredibly grateful for the vital work Safe Harbor does for 3,000 animals and their families every year in Kenosha County,” said Fotsch Kleibor, “And we are excited to pool our resources to sustain lifesaving services for animals and the people who love them.”