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SO Humane birthday party Saturday

Dog enjoys birthday cake at So Humane, submittted photo

The Southern Oregon Humane Society will celebrate its 94th year with a party from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23. Festivities will take place at 2910 Table Rock Road, Medford, in the historic house where SO Humane has resided since its founding in 1928.

A group of women headed by Mae Richardson founded the society to care for dogs and horses.

“We’ve moved past horses,” said Estrella Cervantes, the operations manager. “Our property can’t really support that.”

The society does support dogs and cats by the thousands, serving 1,600 animals annually. In 1996 the society became a committed “no-kill“ shelter — no animal is ever euthanized due to lack of time or space.

SO Humane was the first Humane Society shelter in Oregon to do this, and other shelters took notice. High-kill shelters began contacting the society asking for help, and SO Humane workers came, sometimes driving hundreds of miles.

In 2005 the effort was branded the “saving train.” The program grew further in 2007 with the donation of a city bus. Equipped with kennels, the bus delivers animals from the shadow of death — 100 at a time.

The shelter has plenty of animals ready for new homes, including a group of bottle-feed-age kittens newly arrived at the shelter. There are plenty of puppies ready for adoption too, Cervantes said,“It’s that time of year.”

At the Society’s birthday party, guests will be invited to tour the facility, see some of the animals waiting for a loving home, and eat cake.

“What would a birthday party be without cake?” Cervantes said. Volunteers and staff will be on hand to answer questions, and if the weather permits, guests will watch the shelter’s dogs complete an agility course.

Any dog owners hoping to adopt another pup are encouraged to bring their current pet, to be sure the animals will get along. Anyone thinking they might look at the event as a field trip for their dogs should exercise some caution.

“A lot of the time people’s dogs think we’re the vet,” Cervantes said. This cautionary note aside, dogs are welcome to attend.

Adoption is as easy as filing out some paperwork and paying the fee, which is based on a sliding scale dependent on the age and condition of the animal in question. The cost is $75-$90 for cats, $250-$300 for dogs. The fees pay for spaying, neutering, microchipping, vaccines, deworming and other veterinary care.

The fees also support the Human Society’s mission - from caring for animals in need of a home to education and preventing feral animal overpopulation.

Though COVID-19 has complicated this, the shelter hosts a two-week summer camp for middle-school kids, teaching them how to compassionately and intelligently care for an animal.

“They learn everything from how to bathe and clean the animal, to feeding it, to leading it through an obstacle course,” Cervantes said.

Information about the camp is on SO Humane’s Facebook page. The Society educates over 1,000 elementary-age children annually, hosting children at the shelter or going to schools to teach compassion — how to pet and be gentle with kittens, puppies and grown animals, how to properly care for pets, and the importance of spaying and neutering.

The shelter runs an annual spaying and neutering clinic for feral cats. When the shelter receives information about where feral cat colonies are, they find them, bring them into shelter, and spay and neuter to help prevent overpopulation.

Guests at the birthday fete will also have the opportunity to learn how they can help the shelter as a foster pet parent or a volunteer.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.