Sometimes the needs of man's best friend go unnoticed, but not this time. The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County 2015-2016 Leadership Class chose SoHumane, the Southern Oregon Humane Society, as its community project this year.

Improvements that are in the works include painting all the buildings, replacing broken concrete walks to ensure safety for visitors and workers, installing more free-standing shelters for the animals and regrading the parking lot. A garden courtyard area also will be added. Construction began the first week in April. Adroit Construction Co. is the general contractor.

“This project will enhance our capacity to care for the animals and very likely increase the number of adoptions by making our facility more inviting and safe for visitors and future family members,” says Karen Evans, SoHumane’s director of development.

The chamber leadership class, which chooses a community project every year, has raised close to $50,000 in cash and in-kind contributions for the project. 

"We were delighted to be chosen," says Evans. "We are funded by donations which go toward taking care of the needs of the animals. We usually don't have the resources for this type of work. "

"The goal is to not disrupt the daily operations of SoHumane," says Laura Leebrick, co-chair of the fundraising committee. "We try to do our work before and after hours, and on the weekends."

For Evans, the renovations come at a perfect time. "We had 1,822 adoptions last year, and we are 15 percent ahead of that this year," she says. "Now the outside of the building will reflect the quality of care inside."

About $3,500 is still needed to reach the chamber's fundraising goal for the project. Contributions can be made online at

Reach newsroom assistant Rebecca Scott at 541-776-4477 or by email at