Round of ap-PAWS for Humane Society’s elite donors

Susan Schuyler Smith, Kate Meghji, Steve Smith and Jennifer Jones. [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

Top donors to the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County were shown some puppy love at a reception feting members of the Big Paw Society last Tuesday evening at the Orchid Island Beach Club, underwritten by Shay Rowe, owner of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi of Melbourne, and Brian Shambo and Jeremy Schwibner, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

“You are the lifeblood of our organization. Last year at this time our executive director had just come to Vero Beach, and we have had an amazing year,” said Susan Schuyler Smith, board president, thanking the invited guests and sponsors.

Introducing Kate Meghji, who came on board as HSVBIRC executive director last January, Smith added, “This has been the shortest year of my life, because Kate came in here like a whirlwind from Kansas. You know Kansas has a lot of tornadoes; well we have one in Vero Beach. She has just done a magnificent job.”

“I want to thank each of you tonight, because we’re celebrating you and the amazing support that you provide to our organization. This is our way of saying thank you and recognizing you for your commitment to our community’s at-risk pets,” said Meghji.

Remarking on the tremendous strides the nonprofit organization has made this past year, Meghji credited and acknowledged the hard-working team at the shelter, including staff, volunteers and the directors of the board and foundation, who allowed her to “do what I thought we needed to do for our shelter and bring it up to best practices.”

Meghji said that they have put together a guiding philosophy of improving animal welfare across the entire community.

“These commitments are going to take us outside the walls of our shelter to ensure that our community is a safe and humane place for both people and animals. We know that we can make even greater impacts in reducing the overpopulation of homelessness by advocating to improve lives and enforcement, create enhanced safety net programs to keep people and their pets together and by collaborating with other animal and social service agencies.”

Meghji shared some impressive statistics which demonstrate just some of their 2019 accomplishments.

“We had an 18 percent increase in shelter intakes over the prior year, yet we increased adoption rates by 72 percent. More than 2,100 pets found homes last year and this year we know we can do even more,” said Meghji. “Our medical clinic more than doubled (to 2,292) the number of spay/neuter surgeries performed compared to the prior year, more than 600 pets received care in loving foster homes, and our lifesaving rate is the highest it has ever been at 89 percent.”

Overall in 2019, the Humane Society, which accepts “all animals regardless of age, health, behavior or adoptability,” rescued 3,872 animals, including 1770 cats, 1482 dogs, 152 pocket pets, 460 wildlife and 12 livestock.

“Without your generosity we would not be able to do the work that we do,” said Meghji. “Your donations provide lifesaving, life-changing care to those without a voice in our community and those who are in desperate need.”

Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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