Because they are so visible in the community, it may seem to some
that the HSLC has been around for years, but the truth is, in human
years at least, this program is still a kid. The HSLC opened its
doors, though it didn’t actually have any doors, ten years ago in
2006. It took five years for them to establish a physical location,
but in 2011, they opened their real doors to the HSLC shelter and
did so debt free.
Recently three volunteers, who have been with the HSLC almost from
the beginning, sat down with LDN to talk about their first ten
years, the work of the HSLC, and the appreciation they have for
those who have given so much time and support to saving the lives of
Ellen Burbage, Wanda Stevens, and Marilyn Wheat are all heavily
involved in the HSLC. Burbage has served as the president of the
board of directors for multiple years. Wanda Stevens is a long-term
volunteer who works at the shelter caring for the animals in
residence, and also works with the Spay/Neuter Program offered
through the shelter in conjunction with the Animal Protective League
of Springfield. Marilyn Wheat also spends a great deal of time at
the shelter, but is most often recognized as one of two gals who
work tirelessly to raise funds for the shelter, along with Judy
Wheat and Conzo are the driving force behind the annual HSLC Route
66 Garage Sale. They work the booths and tables at every event
promoting the pet cemetery and offering products that will help pet
parents memorialize their deceased furry friends. And, this year,
they are marketing an HSLC calendar that features first responders
from around Logan County.
Then there is Woofstock. The annual fall fundraiser event was born
from an idea that it would be good for folks to get out, and move
around, and show off their beloved dogs while having a good time and
raising money for the HSLC all at the same time. The event is a “pet
project” of local business owner Joshua Slightom.
Woofstock was first held at Kickapoo Creek Park on the north edge of
Lincoln. It was then moved to Latham Park in the downtown area. This
year it is moving again, to the Logan County Fairgrounds. Woofstock
started off small, but has grown continually with new attractions
being offered each year. According to Burbage, Woofstock has become
a major fundraiser for the HSLC, which operates solely with dollars
raised or donated by the community.
According to Burbage, it takes $80,000 to $90,000 a year to keep the
program running smoothly. With that money, there is only one paid
employee. The balance of the funds goes to the upkeep of the
shelter, and taking care of the animals, including veterinary costs
when they are ill, and of course food and other pet supplies deemed
necessary to keep the animals happy and healthy while they wait for
their “forever home” with an adoptive family.
How it all began
When the Humane Society of Logan County opened in 2006, there was no
shelter, no brick and mortar location for the agency to operate
from. Instead, it relied on volunteers who would agree to “foster”
animals in their homes while waiting for adoption. Stevens said it
was a big job to accomplish. To take in animals the HSLC first
needed people to give them a temporary home. In addition, those
foster parents needed to be willing to adjust their daily lives so
that adoptive parents could have an opportunity to visit the
animals, and make their decisions about who they would claim as
Stevens said the issue was, they could only take in as many animals
as they had foster homes for, so that did limit them somewhat.
None-the-less, Burbage said between 2006 and 2010, the HSLC placed
53 cats and 51 dogs in forever homes.
In 2011, they placed 32 cats and 33 dogs. In 2012, 13, 14, and 15,
the HSLC averaged placing 135 animals per year with adoptive
parents. Thus far in 2016, the HSLC has placed 89 pets in forever
homes, so “we are on track,” she said, “to have the best year we
have ever had.”
Stevens said that even after the shelter opened in 2011 there has
still been a need for foster families, particularly for animals that
need special care and socialization. She said, yes it is a little
more work, but getting the animals adapted to a family situation,
and better preparing them for adoption is vital, and better
sometimes done in a foster home environment.
Building a shelter
In 2011, the HSLC got a windfall that made building the shelter
building possible. Burbage explained that first` there was an
inheritance of cash that would help cover the cost of construction.
The Burwell family then donated the land for the building site, and
the Lincoln Community High School LTEC built the building at a
greatly reduced price. Burbage explained that when all was said and
done, the HSLC had a building with space for animals, an office and
reception area, and a great outdoor space, all debt free.
[to top of second column]
Stevens said that with the opening of the building, the need
for foster parents was reduced, but not done away with. Animals
under certain conditions, still need families who will take them
in and care for them, particularly kittens.
A pet cemetery
comes to HSLC
After building the shelter in 2011, the HSLC realized they had a lot
of property that was not being utilized. Coupling the ideas that the
HSLC needed to raise money, and wanted to offer more services to the
pet-owner community, they created a plan to establish a pet
The vacant lots owned by the HSLC were drawn out and divided into 3
feet by 5 feet plots, where pet remains after cremation could be
buried. Wheat and Conzo took on this project. Wheat noted that while
she and Conzo did not originate the program, those who chaired its
creation have moved on, and she and Conzo have taken up the torch.
In the process, the HSLC sells the urns that are needed. They sell
marker stones and other items, such as lockets, that will hold a
wisp of the pet's hair so that owners may have a remembrance of
their four-legged family member after it has passed.
Wheat said each plot sold would hold up to four urns of cremains.
Currently, they have sold 22 plots with more than 1,000 available.
The focal point of the cemetery is the lovely gazebo that was built
shortly after the cemetery was established. Wheat said it is an
ideal location for memorial services for animals but is also
available to the public for other events, even weddings.
While it is a common practice to bury a pet on personal property, it
is against the law. Offering a pet cemetery in Logan County is an
asset to the pet-owner community in that it gives them a safe and
attractive location to memorialize an animal they love.
The cremation is done locally by some veterinarians in the area.
Urns can be purchased from the HSLC, and remains can be placed in
them during the cremation process.
Burbage said something that came about as somewhat of a surprise was
the addition of allowing human remains also to be buried at the HSLC.
She said when the HSLC filed the paperwork to become a cemetery, it
was discovered that there is no distinction between animals and
humans when classifying a space as a cemetery. Therefore, anyone who
wishes may purchase a plot for human cremains as well. This also
offers the opportunity for pets and pet owners to be buried
When walking around at the cemetery there are stones in place now
for future burials, and stones for those that have already passed.
There are statues and a lovely bench dedicated in memory of Lisa
There is also a brick area that is referred to as the scatter
garden. In the area, rose bushes grow, and for those who cannot
afford a plot or for other reasons, do not wish to purchase one,
remains can be scattered around the rose bushes.
Each year in the fall, the HSLC hosts a blessing of the animals.
During that time, a short ceremony is held, where that remains from
animals lost during residency are scattered in the rose garden that
accompanies that bricked area. The bricks hold the names of animal
remains that have been placed in the garden and offers a life-long
location for HSLC volunteers and others to come and contemplate and
remember the special animals that have passed.
Of course, having the cemetery and keeping it looking nice depends
upon people who will volunteer their time and efforts to the
maintenance of the area. Wheat said that her husband Dan does a lot
at the cemetery, but there is still a need for more volunteers. The
lesson to learn here is that while it is good that a volunteer love
animals and wants to serve them, they can do so without actually
caring for the animals, by caring for the spaces they occupy both
now and in the after-life.
Do you know?
Do you know all that the HSLC offers in this community? Pet
adoption…obviously. But there is a great deal more involved in
running a Humane Society than finding homes for displaced pets. In
part two, Burbage, Stevens, and Wheat will talk about the other,
perhaps lesser known services provided by the HSLC.