Vandals target Humane Society

GREENFIELD — There are cats everywhere at the Hancock County Humane Society. Some roam the building, spending much of their time lounging in kitty climbers or in the building’s windowsills.

So, when someone used a BB gun to shoot through a glass door and a large window on the east side of the facility, the first thing Melinda Wright thought of was the animals and what could have happened to them. She was thankful to learn no animals were harmed. Now, she’s hoping a tip from the public might help police find those responsible.

For the second time this year, the facility in Greenfield has fallen victim to vandalism, said Wright, the society’s president. A spray of pellets from a gun damaged windows in February and again a few weeks ago.

“There was probably a cat sitting in that window at the time,” Wright said. “I’d like to think they weren’t shooting at the cats, but you never know.”

The Hancock County Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in downtown Greenfield, is home to dozens of felines at any given time.

The shelter is not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, Wright said, and it receives no funding from the state or local governments. The work it does is entirely nonprofit, and the staff is made up of all volunteers.

That’s why instances of vandalism like these are so frustrating, Wright said. The facility utilizes donations to cover its operating costs, which include utility bills and the costs associated with providing medical care for animals at the shelter. The budget is always stretched thin, she said, and the staff often turns to donating aluminum cans to fill gaps in funding.

The shelter spent more than $250 in February to repair the shattered window. Wright expects replacing the second window and paying for a new door will cost at least $400.

That’s money that could have been used for medical treatments for the animals, she said.

The damaged glass would have been easy to break through, Wright said, and she worries about what would have happened if someone had gained access to the facility or if the one of the cats had gotten out.

Volunteer safety also is a concern, said Heather White, the Humane Society’s vice president. The shelter is open to the public Thursdays and Saturdays, she said, but at least one volunteer visits the facility daily to feed and care for the animals.

White said she and Wright have taken to sending each other text messages before they visit the shelter alone, and they have encouraged the other volunteers to do the same. That way, someone is accountable for a fellow volunteer, White said.

Both crimes were reported to the Greenfield Police Department, but so far, the shelter has no leads on who might be responsible for the damage. In February, Greenfield Power and Light added extra lighting near the shelter, hoping it would deter vandals, Wright said.

When those responsible are found, Greenfield Police Chief John Jester said, he’ll see to it the vandals are held responsible for their actions.

“It’s unfortunate when (organizations) try to do something good, and others ruin it,” Jester said.

The second instance has the shelter’s leaders looking into what further measures they can take to secure the facility. Until those determinations can be made, volunteers are asking those who live near the shelter to keep an eye out and report any odd activity.

“People have said to me, ‘Well, why don’t you just move to a new building?’” Wright said. “We would love to do that; we’d love to have a bigger space, and we’d love to be able to accept dogs, but we can’t afford it.

“But if anyone has a new building they’d like to donate, we’ll take it,” she added with a laugh.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or