CAHS celebrates 150th anniversary

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Messenger photo by John Matuszak

A pair of peahens, the female of the peacock species, have roosted at the Capital Area Humane Society and are looking for a good home, along with cats, dogs, guinea pigs and a hedgehog. The organization is celebrating its 125th year of preventing animal cruelty and providing animals for adoption.

They’re proud as peacocks over at the Capital Area Humane Society, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

That includes two current residents, real peacocks – actually, peahens, the female of the species – taken in recently by the shelter in Hilliard.

While the private, non-profit agency mostly handles cats and dogs, it does take in more unusual animals, part of its wider  mission to prevent mistreatment and promote the bond between animals and people.

Scott Baxter, the shelter manager, has welcomed goats and other small farm animals, pot-bellied pigs and alligators, and is now looking after a hedgehog.

All of the animals – including the peahens – are available for adoption.

The birds came to the shelter when the owner’s property flooded. Baxter took it in stride when the humane officers called in to say they were bringing in peahens, and turned to the Internet to learn what they eat.

Baxter keeps free-range chickens at his own place, so he started the peahens on their feed before adding cracked corn to their diet. They are being held in a large pen typically used for feral cats, and seem to be adjusting to their new surroundings.

The females don’t have the tail display of the males, but they have colorful plumage and an impressive wing span of about six feet, Baxter said.

Someone interested in taking home the birds should probably have a lot of room for them to roam, he suggested.

Investigating reports of animal cruelty or neglect is a large part of the mission of the Capital Area Humane Society, explained its executive director, Jodi Buckman, who accepted a resolution from Columbus City Council March 10.

The organization was founded as the Columbus Humane Society, Buckman pointed out.

Two teachers and prominent community leaders launched the effort in 1883 to foster better treatment for animals.

Last year, the shelter took in 10,342 cats and kittens, an average of 30 a day, Buckman told council. The shelter has a capacity to hold about 300 cats at a time.

The staff responded to 7,354 calls for investigations or emergency assistance to Columbus and Franklin County law enforcement.

By state law, the Capital Area Humane Society is the only agency with commissioned humane agents in Franklin County, who investigate cases of alleged abuse of all animals, according to its web site. The county shelter only handles dogs.

Animal cruelty is often linked to various types of crime, from gang activity to dog fighting rings, Buckman said.

And investigations can point to abuse of people as well.

“Statistically, where you find a neglected pet, you will find a neglected child or an abused wife,” City Council President Michael Mentel said.

The humane society provides shelter for the pets of victims of domestic violence, through its Safe Haven program.

Along with its adoption program, the Capital Area Humane Society brings people and pets together through Capital Canine Connections, providing animal therapy to Children’s Hospital and for senior citizens in retirement homes.

Dog and puppy training classes are offered, and a spay/neuter clinic is available to keep the pet population down.

Tours of the shelter, at 3015 Scioto-Darby Executive Court, are available for schools and other groups. There is no charge, but the groups are encouraged to complete an animal-related community service project.

All of these programs are maintained largely by a flock of 750 volunteers, with almost all of its funding coming through donations and fees for its services.

The shelter is open for adoptions Monday through Friday, 2-7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.

A confidential voice mail for reporting animal cruelty is available 24 hours a day by calling (614)777-7387 ext. 250.  Callers are asked to leave the street address, zip code and nearest cross street of the address where the animal is located.

Information is available by calling 777-PETS or at www.cahs-pets.org.

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