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Humane Society of Western Montana marks 50-year milestone

Published On: Jan 16 2013 05:08:50 PM MST

The Humane Society of Western Montana is celebrating 50 years of serving Missoula and surrounding communities.

Director Lora O’Connor is anxious to celebrate the milestone, and grateful for the community support they’ve received over the years. She’s also thankful for one of the humane society’s newest pets.

Dee Dee is a seven-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. Her owner passed away recently and she can only use three of her legs. But you never know she's gone through any tragedy, as she hops around the office playing.

Dee Dee is one of many cats and dogs that have called the Humane Society of Western Montana home, at least temporarily, over the last 50 years. And Dee Dee has taken a liking to O’Connor.

The shelter has come a long way since 1963. It wasn't until the 1980's that spaying and neutering the pets became the norm.

“In the 80's it really helped reduce the pet population,” said O’Connor.

The building has changed too. The current building just off Highway 93 has only been there since 2005.

“It made a world of difference. We're able to house animals in lots of different areas, house more animals,” O’Connor said.

But some of the core values have been in tact from the very beginning. That's the community effort that allows the humane society to exist.

They run on a budget of $600,000 a year, the vast majority of it donations, and an occasional grant. They're proud to say more than 100 people volunteer, and it's those folks who help keep their adoption rate one of the highest in the country.

“Our adoption rate last year was a little over 99 percent.”

It's that support and success that has O’Connor confident that little Dee Dee can find a permanent home.

The Humane Society of Western Montana is hosting a celebration this Friday with a dinner and several speakers. Mayor John Engen is emcee for the event. For more information click here.