Humane Society opens doors to new facility

Two 14-year-old Columbia girls helped win financing for the project.
Six-year-old Liam Weber embraces a cat while his mother Kenna Weber overlooks during the Grand Re-Opening Celebration and Community Open House on Saturday at the Central Missouri Humane Society. The event showcased the renovation of the building and gave the community a chance to see the new animals.

Dozens gathered Saturday to celebrate the renovation of the Central Missouri Humane Society’s shelter. The festivities included tours of the new facility, a bounce house, face painting, live broadcasting from a local radio station and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Representatives from the MU Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction were in attendance as well, promoting the “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” program for the shelter.

At the start of the event, board members, volunteers and ambassadors from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce stood on the front lawn to cut a ceremonial yellow ribbon.

Before it was cut, John Schrum, president of the Humane Society’s board, gave a speech about the opening. He thanked two 14-year-old Columbia girls, Amanda Huhman and Libby Burks, who helped to bring the renovation about by entering the CHMS in the Zootoo contest, which CHMS won.

“This is about producing a better environment for the animals we house,” Schrum said. “This is the day that one chapter closes and another one opens.”

Burks first heard about the competition from a magazine article that featured the website She mentioned it to Huhman and the two decided to enter CMHS in the competition.

“There were three phases to the competition,” Huhman said. “Phase one was about getting points. The top 20 shelters had the most people participating in earned points and went on to phase two. The president (of Richard Thompson visited each shelter and then picked the top ten that had the most need. Then the top ten went into the voting phase, and whichever shelter had the most votes won.”

CMHS provided videos on their website of the progress of the renovation, and volunteers discussed it with visitors during the open house.

“This is about producing a better environment for the animals we house,” Schrum said.

The cat housing area now has a separate entrance from the dog housing area and has thick insulation, which helps prevent sound from entering the room, thereby creating less stress for the cats. The cats are living in condos, which have three separate living areas per condo.

A section of the cat housing area is separate from the main cat housing area and is used as a place where cats can play and where adopters can get to know the cat they’re adopting.

The chain link doors of the kennels in the dog housing area have been replaced with glass, and a special type of paint was added to the walls, making them durable and easier to clean. Each housing area is equipped with ventilation systems that are separate from one another. The system blows clean air into the center of the room, through the kennels and to the outside.

The system is supposed to help combat the spread of disease. Senior staff member Pam Pearn said the new surfaces in the kennel will also help cut down on disease because they are easier to clean.

She said because CMHS is the only shelter in central Missouri that takes all kinds of animals, the shelter takes in about 8,000 animals per year and usually has 200 being housed at any time.

“Any time you house 200 animals together, and especially in an open admission shelter, where we bring in new, often unvaccinated animals every day, spread of disease is a constant area for vigilance,” she said.

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