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SSHS opens up, will try to ‘Empty the Shelters’

The South Surburban Humane Society is officially open again and raising funds for new projects.

The Homewood Adoption Center and the main shelter in Chicago Heights are open for adoptions without appointment from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Second Chance Resale Shop at 23 Steger Road in Steger, supporting SSHS, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are accepted until 4 p.m. 

All facilities are closed on July 4.

A grand reopening drive is aimed at restocking supplies. The Humane Society is specifically looking for donations of newspaper, copy paper, toilet paper and paper towels. An Amazon wish list can be found at smile.amazon.com/gp/ch/list/23-7165004/

Visitors will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing, per the state’s requirements. Hand sanitizer will be provided and SSHS will limit the number of people allowed inside the building. Staff will disinfect the high-traffic areas hourly. 

“We will kindly ask people to leave if they refuse to (wear a mask),” SSHS CEO Emily Klehm said. “Staff, volunteer and customer safety are of the utmost importance to us.”

The adoption center at 2207 183rd Street in Homewood opened last June, greatly expanding SSHS’s capacity. Klehm called it a “game-changer” at the time. She said if not for the coronavirus shutdown, the facility would have serviced over 1,000 adoptions.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. It feels like yesterday that we were so filled with joy to cut the ribbon on the Homewood Adoption Center,” Klehm said. “Hopefully, we will exceed 1,000 adoptions there in the next year.”

A Housing Cook County’s Animals grant for $6 million was announced in May. With the Cook County grant in hand, SSHS is raising funds to meet the expected $8.5 million cost for a new main facility. A location for the facility has not yet been determined. The Homewood Adoption Center will remain open.

SSHS is also participating in the Bissell Pet Foundation’s “Empty the Shelters” campaign from July 10 to 12. The charity makes a donation to recoup some of the cost of adoption fees. 

“More pets run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year,” founder Cathy Bissell said in a release. “The increase in shelter intake puts pressure on our partners, who are already working with limited staff and funding due to COVID-19. The best way for us to support them is to help their pets find loving homes.”

According to the foundation, Empty the Shelters has found homes for 37,394 pets since it began in 2016, including 6,231 during the COVID-19 shutdown.

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