Longevity is easy; all you have to do is live a long time. The real trick is to thrive, and the Marin Humane Society, which celebrates its centennial in June, is still thriving and growing.
The organization was founded in 1907 by Ethel H. Tomkins of San Rafael. Publicity Director Sherry Cardo says MHS differs from similar groups around the country because it was founded to protect the welfare of all animals.
Today MHS handles animal control for the entire county. For example, it recently rescued 375 hens that were being kept in abusive conditions, even by the standards of the poultry industry. Cardo is obviously moved when she describes watching the birds experience freedom and the open air for the first time.
The group also went into action to save the four-legged victims of Katrina. They brought in 2,500 dogs and placed almost all of them. MHS is blessed with real estate and was able to accommodate the canine refugees in a large area normally reserved for livestock at its current location in north Marin.
On a recent visit to MHS, this writer managed not to come home with a dog, though there were plenty of adoption candidates playing on the lawn with volunteers. The tour included an introduction to Larry Carson, who heads MHS’s San Quentin program. Prison inmates are trained to work with dogs. They, in turn, provide services to shelter canines who need special attention to get them ready for adoption. According to Cardo, the program has saved the lives of many dogs and reduced the incidence of violence in the prison.
MHS has a renowned training department, headed up by Trish King. The group also has been very successful with its education and spay/neuter programs, which have helped reduce the number of animals needing adoption in Marin County. In fact, these days there are often more people who want pets than there are adoptable animals. To solve this “problem,” MHS works with sister organizations in Sonoma and other nearby communities where there may be a surplus of animals to help find homes for them in Marin County.
The Marin Humane Society has big plans for its celebration of 100 years of service. The MHS Birthday Bash and Dog Walk takes place on June 3 (see page 19). A fund-raising dog walk starts bright and early and will be followed by an all-day party featuring food, a children’s area, flyball and Frisbee dog events, and more. It’s all free.
To learn more about the history of this venerable institution, visit www.marinhumanesociety.org/AboutUs/milestones.html.
Kathleen Maher is a freelance writer based in Tiburon, California. Some of her best friends are dogs.