Vanderburgh Humane Society struggling over fewer adoptions, more surrenders

Vanderburgh Humane Society struggling over fewer adoptions, more surrenders
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:46 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Vanderburgh Humane Society says they have a problem with overcrowding. They say during COVID, they had more adoptions and fewer surrenders. That trend has since flipped, and they say it isn’t getting better.

Some may envy the job of those who work with lovable cats, dogs and more each day; but it’s a hard time to work with animals.

“Things are not great, I’m not going to lie to you,” said Vanderburgh Humane Society Director of Advancement Amanda Coburn. “We have certainly seen better times here at the VHS.”

“I’ve been in animal welfare for ten years and it’s not something I’ve quite faced yet,” said Vanderburgh Humane Society Event and Outreach Coordinator Mackenzee McKittrick.

Shelter officials say they try to keep the number of animals in the shelter around 300 to 400, right now they have over 650. They say they’re also struggling with staffing and having enough volunteers.

Officials say VHS is the largest animal welfare agency in about a 90-mile radius, and their current numbers mean they’re less able to help other, smaller shelters.

This means less attention for each animal, and a great strain on staff and volunteers.

“Our staff are pushed to their breaking point week after week after week,” said Coburn. “There’s no end in sight really, and that’s, I think, what wears on them.”

In a recent Facebook post, the shelter asked the community what’s keeping them from adopting animals in need. They say the main responses they got were from people who already have as many pets as they’re able to care for, and those who couldn’t afford veterinary care.

Shelter officials say this could stem from a national vet shortage, which also affects the shelter, since they can only afford to employ one vet who spends almost all their time doing spay and neuter procedures.

They say it’s emotionally taxing to work without any clear fixes to their problems.

“I did not anticipate how hard it was,” said McKittrick. “It’s something you go home every single night and think about and you try to think of solutions but right now there doesn’t feel like there is any tried-and-true solutions to this.”

Officials tell us one long-term solution is to encourage more people to become vets.

In the short-term, people should consider donating to the humane society, and supporting state legislation which would enable lower-level veterinary staff to perform simple procedures.

Until they see something change, they say they won’t stop working for local animals in need.

“Our staff cares for these animals the most, more than anyone on the planet,” said Coburn. “There is no one who wants to see them go to good homes more than the people who care for them every day.”

For more information on the Vanderburgh Humane Society, and to see an up-to-date list of all the little friends you can take home, visit