Giving Homeless Pets a Fighting Chance

The Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, desperately needed a new and larger adoption center in a high-traffic area to give Lincoln’s homeless and abandoned pets the best chance of finding their forever homes. Donations came in, but it wasn’t until Mark Pieloch gave a $1.5 million donation that the new adoption center became a reality.

The Capital Humane Society first opened its doors in 1902 as the Lancaster County Humane Society. Located in a shed, its initial mission was to prevent cruelty against children and horses. In 1907, services expanded to serve a variety of other animals.

In 1924, the Sawyer-Snell Estate gave the humane society a three-acre tract of land. The shelter is still located at Park Boulevard and Hatch Street. The latest incarnation was built in 1966 and renovated in 1997. In 2004, the Spay/Neuter Vet clinic was renovated, which ensured that all animals in the adoption program were spayed or neutered on site.

Because of the generous donation of Mark Pieloch, the Pieloch Pet Adoption Center opened its doors on July 2, 2013. Located in a highly traveled area at 6500 S. 70th Street, shelter director Robert Downey hopes more visitors will stop in and projects a 10 percent increase in the adoption rate.

The homeless pet population in the United States is a staggering problem. Anywhere from 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because shelters are overrun, have limited funds and are too small to house and care for large numbers of companion animals they receive. The numbers of stray dogs in the United States is impossible to determine, but estimates for cats are as high as 70 million. Many pet owners do not spay or neuter their pets. Indiscriminate breeding brings even more unwanted cats and dogs into the world. The goal of the Capital Humane Society is to educate people about proper care for their animals, encourage spaying and neutering, ensure pets are provided with identification and find loving forever homes for the animals in its care.

A great way to help the Capital Humane Society is by volunteering. The Foster Care program is one volunteer option. Some animals that come in need a little extra attention before they are ready for adoption. Some may require socialization; others may need a quiet place to nurse young or recover. A dog or cat may require medication for a time before its ready to go to a new home. The Capital Humane Society’s volunteer Foster Program was designed to meet the needs of pets that need a little more help. Volunteering at the shelter is another option. Walking the dogs and helping in the office are just two of the ways volunteers can help the shelter run more effectively.

Monetary donations help to pay for programs that give more animals a chance to find homes. Donations don’t have to be money, however. Donated supplies from the Capital Humane Society wish list are always welcome. Needed items include non-clumping cat litter, exam gloves, Purina dog and cat food and bleach.

When Mark Pieloch donated money so that the Capital Humane Society could build the Pieloch Pet Adoption Center, he helped give Lincoln’s homeless pets a fighting chance to find a forever home.

Helping Big Cats at the Central Florida Animal Reserve

When devastating winds badly damaged facilities at the Central Florida Animal Reserve (CFAR) in the spring of 2013, President Thomas Blue and the volunteer staff at the big cat sanctuary found themselves dealing with a financial crisis. Home to over 40 big cats and several smaller wild animals, the sanctuary suffered extensive damage to the refrigeration system as well as to buildings and other essential framework facilities. Repair costs far exceeded their budget. That’s when Mark Pieloch stepped in.

Pieloch had recently moved his business, PSPC Inc., to Florida from Nebraska. His love of animals is reflected in his business, which makes palatable medications and supplements for companion animals. When Pieloch heard of the devastation at the Central Florida Animal Reserve and the critical needs of the sanctuary, he met with Blue and presented him with a $12,000 check to cover their immediate needs.

The Central Florida Animal Reserve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that began operations in 2007. Many of the sanctuary residents were once kept as pets. Some were rescued from a variety of unhealthy situations and still others came from government agencies. None of the cats was born in the wild. It is estimated that the large cat population, animals kept as pets or in other situations, rivals that of big cats in the wild. Cute tiger cubs grow into unmanageable carnivores and even exotic-pet owners with the best intentions are unable to handle them. Without the option of a sanctuary life, many are euthanized. CFAR provides these unfortunate animals a place to live their lives in a healthy environment. The sanctuary also provides quality food, water and enrichment activities to keep the animals engaged and happy.

CFAR is currently moving from Brevard to Osceola. The move will expand the facilities to better meet the needs of the animals. Larger facilities will give Blue and the volunteer staff improved resources to develop educational programs and increase public awareness about the needs of these great cats. The eventual plan is to build a $1 million dollar compound for the tigers, lions, cougars and leopards, offer guided tours and add an educational visitor center.

Educating the public is a huge part of CFAR’s mission. One of the resident cats at CFAR is Kukla. A female Western cougar, Kukla brings attention to one of Florida’s own endangered species, the Florida panther. According to biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, only 100 to 160 yearlings and adults remain in Florida. If this trend continues, the Florida panther will soon no longer exist in the wild. Other large cats are endangered as well. Tigers, in particular, exist in very low numbers in the wild. The risk of extinction is great. The more people learn about the grace, beauty and wonder of these exotic creatures, the more motivated they are to help them.

When Mark Pieloch stepped in to help CFAR, he made it possible for the sanctuary to repair the damage and quickly get back to its important work of saving big cats and educating the public.