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Huntington Bank Survivor Program

Suzanne Yoder, Manager of Event Marketing and Community Outreach


A winning program in the 2007 Maddies Fund Marketing Competition submitted by Humane Society for Hamilton County.

The number of stray and unwanted animals in Hamilton County, Indiana, is on the rise due to the explosive growth our county has seen over the last several years.  With the growth in human population, our shelter has seen animal intake double over the last five years.

Animal Control Agencies in our county bring all stray animals to our facility for processing and holding until a determination is made. The county requires that we hold all strays for seven days before we can place them up for adoption. The county pays us for general care and the first round of vaccinations given in those seven days; however, they do not pay for any emergency medical care or treatment for illness. If an animal arrives seriously injured or with a life threatening illness, it is the Humane Society that bears the expense of treatment. Additionally, all expenses associated with caring for the animals after their initial seven-day stay is also covered by the Humane Society.

Because we are an organization that believes in giving every adoptable animal in our care a chance for placementregardless of breed, age, illness, disability or TIME–we are definitely feeling the financial burden that comes with this commitment. Whether its a hit by car or abuse case, a dog with parvo or heartworm disease, or a senior pet who is blind or deaf, we put forth every possible effort to treat and find placement for the animal.

The Survivor Program
In an effort to financially support animals in need of emergency medical care, the Humane Society for Hamilton County established The Survivor Program in 2005. A PR campaign was launched to promote the program and we approached a local banking institution with a very innovative and unique proposal in hopes that they would sponsor it. With so much noise in the marketplace regarding your choice for banking solutions, Huntington Bank was looking for a way to differentiate themselves from its competitors. Huntington was already using a grassroots marketing approach and hometown message in its branding campaign, so we proposed they reach new customers and establish loyalty with existing customers by promoting their collaboration with their local humane society. After all, research showed that nearly 56.7% of the households in our county own at least one pet. A partnership with us meant reaching a broad audience with a common affinity for animal welfare.

The Huntington Bank Survivor Program was established in 2006 with an annual sponsorship agreement that 1) provided funding for animals in need of emergency medical care and 2) promoted responsible pet ownership with monthly microchipping and adoption events at their banking centers–all supported by public relations and advertising efforts funded by Huntington Bank. Huntington Bank covers the cost of the microchips and all event-related expenses. With the microchipping advertised as FREE to the public, our events were soon drawing 100 plus visitors. Since the sponsorship began, over 1,000 prospective customers have walked through Huntingtons doors resulting in 150 new clients. And over 1,000 pets have been microchipped making it possible for them to find their way home should they ever get lost.

The adoption aspect of the program has also been very successful. Through our events at the bank locations and the advertising done inside the branches, the shelter has found homes for 49 difficult to place shelter animalsall members of the Survivor Program (this number represents 2.8% of adoptable animals in the shelter). The banking centers have posters in the lobby that feature the faces of pets who have benefited from the Survivor Program. Feedback from their customers and employees has been overwhelmingly positive. Their employees are so proud to be a part of this.

Huntingtons financial contribution and additional donations collected through the promotion of the program have covered everything from tail and leg amputations, teeth extractions, and treatment of parvo and heartworm disease to the rehabilitation of animals falling victim to abuse and neglect.

Hard to Place Adoption Success Stories
Some examples of the harder adoption cases follow. Profiles for each pet are enclosed.

  • Isabelle, a deaf Pit Bull who had been seized by Animal Control after her owner threatened to shoot her for not listening to him. He has also poured kerosene over her back to kill fleas. ADOPTED!
  • Ray, a nine year old blind Labrador Retriever suffering from congestive heart failure. ADOPTED!
  • Sheridan, a Chow mix seized by animal control when she was found chained in a backyard with a bone sticking out of her leg. Our Survivor program allowed us to cover the cost of having the leg removed, a blood transfusion and a heartworm treatment. Adoption Pending.
  • Mongo, a Tabby that a group of teens stabbed in the head with a sharp object. ADOPTED!
  • A group of nine Pit Bulls who arrived emaciated and abused, believed to have been used as bait dogs. All required rehabilitation and socialization. One passed away. The remaining eight were all placed into wonderful homes.
  • Tempo, an eight-year old deaf Golden Retriever suffering from seizures. ADOPTED!
  • Leroy, a Mastiff mix with the worst case of Demodex mange ever treated by our veterinarians. We were unable to even tell what Buzz was as he was missing all of his hair and his eyes were swollen shut. Now healthy and ADOPTED!
  • Violet, a 10-year-old black Lab with severe skin allergies. ADOPTED!
  • Jada, a seven-year-old black Lab mix with heartworm disease. Receiving treatment and ADOPTED!
  • Gretchen, a seven-year-old overweight Tabbyrequiring socialization. ADOPTED!

Media Relations and Community Outreach
Nine Pit Bulls Abused & Abandoned:
When the Humane Society receives abused animals, we often turn to the media. One such case that brought a lot of media attention to abused animals was Triumph, an abused, emaciated Pit Bull. Triumph was found abandoned along with eight other Pit Bulls in the county. His canines had been cut off at the gums. He was extremely ill and in pain. Surgery revealed he was suffering from advanced heartworm disease and late stages of liver cancer. Triumph passed away peacefully while under anesthetic, but before his surgery, his story was featured on all four television networks including; NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX, as well as receiving significant newspaper coverage. His story touched the hearts of many and the Humane Society was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support coming to the aid of Triumph by offering monetary donations as well as  offering permanent, loving homes for the other eight abused Pit Bulls. The dollars were used to help with the medical expenses of the nine dogs as well as to establish a reward fund to help encourage anyone with information regarding those involved with the abuse to come forward. Because of the publicity, local law enforcement received tips that led to the arrest of the individual responsible for abandoning and abusing these nine dogs. The story of Triumph also brought much needed awareness to the suffering this breed endures at the hands of criminals. For the media and public who had the opportunity to meet Triumph before his passing, it changed their perceptions of the Pit Bull forever and inspired more bully breed adoptions at our facility.

Fred the Beagle:
A Beagle mix was spotted by a police officer hobbling on a country road. As it turns out, the dog had been shot in the leg with a .22 caliber gun. Rather than euthanize the stray as was recommended by the vet clinic, we opted to treat him and felt we could raise the money to get that done. We named the Beagle Fred, and a PR campaign was launched to save his life. The local newspaper ran an article on Fred the Beagles story. To our surprise, we were contacted by The Fred Society, headquartered out of California when a local member read about Fred. Yes, there is a national society of people all named Fred who are so proud of the name that they were compelled to help a Beagle in Noblesville, Indiana, who shared their name. They launched a nationwide campaign through their Web site,, to help with Fred the Beagles medical expenses. They set-up a link on their Fred-site so that Freds everywhere could donate directly to Fred the Beagles fund. Between funds raised there and locally, we were able to save Freds life AND legand he was placed into rescue with a wonderful family.

PAWSPartnering Animals with Seniors
The PAWS Program (Partnering Animals With Seniors) was rolled out in 2005 to help find loving homes for the older pets in our care. As you know, it is often difficult to adopt out an older dog or cat, but by offering the adoption of these wonderful four-legged seniors at a significantly discounted fee, we have been able to place most into homes with senior citizens in our community.

Seniors often live on a fixed income, so the adoption fee discount and other medical discounts we offer are critical in their ability to afford a pet. We believe all seniors deserve to spend their golden years filled with unconditional love and companionship even the four-legged ones and the PAWS Program helps make this possible.
The standard adoption fee for an adult pet is $85 and includes the spay/neuter surgery, a microchip, vaccinations, and a free wellness exam at a participating vet. The PAWS Program allows seniors ages 55 years and up to adopt a senior pet for just $35a 40% discountwhich includes all of the same benefits. Senior pets are defined as those who are at least five years of age.

Approximately 10% of our animals are senior pets. The cages/kennels of these animals are marked with a PAWS tag so prospective adopters know who is eligible. The program is also promoted via our Web site and on a local television show dedicated to the Humane Society for Hamilton County called Pet Tails.

PAWS Adoption Success Stories
Sonny is a six-year-old German Shepherd who arrived at the shelter with a gunshot wound to his foot. We immediately sought medical care for Sonny and soon after placed him on the adoption floor. Most families looking to adopt wanted a puppy or a younger dog, so Sonny was often passed by. That is until a teary-eyed older gentleman arrived one Sunday afternoon. He had just lost his German Shepherd, his beloved companion of many years. He was lonely and hoping to find an easygoing dog to spend his days and nights with. He found that dog in Sonny. Living on a fixed income, the PAWS Program made the adoption affordable and possibleand gave both these seniors a happy ending.

Sadie is a seven-year-old Mastiff mix who was released by her owners because they could no longer care for her. As with most owner releases, Sadie had a very difficult time adjusting at the shelter. The comfort of home was all she had ever known, so finding her self in a kennel propelled her into depression. Sadie was very protective and not a good candidate for a family with small children. We reached out to our local network of animal lovers in search of a home for her. Networking led us to a couple who could not have children and were looking for a dog to round out their family. Sadie now goes to work everyday with her owner and officially greets customers as they walk through the doors of the business. She is a very happy girl.

Lulu is an 11year-old Yorkie who arrived with a heart murmur and horrible teeth. Her teeth had never been cleaned and some were literally rotting out of her head. A retired school teacher fell in love and was thrilled that the $35 adoption fee would free up money for her to take Lulu to the vet to get her teeth taken care of and her heart murmur addressed. Lulu is thriving now that she has the proper medication. She goes for daily walks and loves spending her days with her new family.
We love being able to share all of these stories that end happily, but the reality is the cost associated with offering such discounted fees for animals who often cost us a great deal up front due to their medical conditions is becoming more and more difficult.

In Closing
The Humane Society for Hamilton County is very proud to say we have one of the highest placement rates in the country with a 90% average. Our passion and compassion for the animals in our care is the driving force behind this achievement. Regardless of our space or financial limitations, we take those in need in. And remarkably, we find loving homes for some of the least likely candidates. We are a very marketing driven organization which we feel differentiates us from so many other shelters. We believe in collaboration and partnerships to give our animals the chance they deserve. Finding a home for an abused, bi-laterally deaf Pit Bull and nine-year-old blind Lab with congestive heart failure is no easy taskbut with tenacity, creativity and sheer determination, weve done it.

The Maddies Fund Marketing Competition was for members, and the purpose was to find effective marketing strategies for adopting hard to place dogs and cats.

The Maddie’s Fund mission and purpose is to help the nation’s most needy dogs and cats that, for one reason or another, have ended up in animal shelters. Established in 1999, the foundation awards millions of dollars through grants to animal welfare coalitions to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats.

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