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South Suburban Humane Society opens Homewood Adoption Center

Sallie May, Vern, Ollie and their furry friends barked and howled in unison with the audience’s applause at the ribbon cutting for the South Suburban Humane Society’s new adoption center Friday, June 21, in Homewood.

Humane society and village officials gathered to mark the occasion of the new facility at 2207 183rd Street in Homewood, which will be a temporary home to around 30 dogs and five to 10 cats. 

“Thrilled is not even close to the word,” SSHS CEO Emily Klehm said. “This has been a many-year dream of ours, to have our own adoption center and to be in Homewood. We feel such affinity with so many volunteers here, so many of our adopters. We’re just on cloud nine.” 

There were 28 dogs on the grounds Friday with adoptions beginning right after the ribbon was cut. The adoption center also has an in-house spay and neuter surgical suite.

Klehm said the center could help SSHS make up to 800 additional adoptions per year.

“This is a real game changer for us, to be in this community and in this location, to be able to help this many more animals is really incredible,” SSHS Board Treasurer Heather McNitt said. “We have a lot of volunteers from Homewood and Flossmoor that I think sometimes don’t necessarily make the trek over to (the SSHS location in) Chicago Heights. For us, this is really going to grow our volunteer base.” 

The building, which once housed the Homewood Animal Hospital, was gifted last year to SSHS by a donor who wanted to remain anonymous. It was vacated in 2015 and renovations began last fall.

“It’s wonderful,” Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said. “It serves their need and it brings more people into town. Hopefully, more dogs get adopted. And cats, too, I guess, but I’m a dog lover.” 

Hofeld has three black labradors. He said the village is full of dog people.

“They’ll be some spillover effect for the rest of the town,” Hofeld said. “People waiting for their paperwork to be filled out, hopefully will go over to Blueberry Hill (Pancake House next door) to eat, or to Lassen’s (Tap), shop in town.”

Veterinarian John Coyne of Coyne Veterinary Center in St. John, Indiana, and his wife, Ruth, donated $75,000. PetSmart Charities donated $40,000 to help pay for the spay and neuter suite. Veterinary surgeon Claude Gendreau gifted $25,000.

“We’ve just had a great response from the community,” Klehm said.

There are a few more projects left in the building renovation, which SSHS is calling “phase two.” The cat room doesn’t yet have a door, for example, so felines can’t be adopted at present. Donations are still being accepted at www.southsuburbanhumanesociety.org to help fund the needed work.

SSHS is also looking for more volunteer workers to walk dogs and help with adoptions. Those interested can stop by the adoption center or visit the website, Klehm said.

Photos by David P. Funk (DPF) and Eric Crump (EC)/H-F Chronicle.

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