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I’m glad to be back on the pages of the Rapid City Journal after a short hiatus from writing a humane society column. I spent decades doing newspaper work and still believe media and newspapers are vital to a healthy, vibrant community, and I’m proud to be part of the Journal even in this meager role.

But while my Humane Society of the Black Hills column took a short break from the fourth estate, the work at the humane society didn’t slow down for a minute. We’ve been busy caring for animals, doing our best to educate about spay and neuter, reaching out to business partners and community, and being thankful for our donors and volunteers.

We’ve also been managing change.

First, longtime executive director Jacque Harvey accepted a challenge at an out-of-state shelter and packed up the house, the stuff, and the dogs and charged head on into her new life. I’ve talked to her a few times since she left; she’s doing well and still ready to share insights she gained after almost nine years at the Humane Society of the Black Hills. After Jacque left, the search for a new director ensued and, in late July, I was named executive director and am now charging head-on into my own new life.

The Humane Society of the Black Hills mission statement has also changed. Earlier this year, we updated the mission statement to better reflect our commitment to a path moving forward. Our new mission — Serving Animals. Serving Community. — is simple and clear about our priorities and those things that are most important to us.

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The Humane Society will always, first and foremost, serve the animals that come through the door in the best, most humane way possible. It’s a commitment we take seriously. In 2018 we took in 5,227 animals, and it looks like we could exceed that number in 2019 and will do so with caring, committed staff.

And here’s some news I’m thrilled to share: After a few minor speed bumps along the way, the new kennels from the Homes for the Holidays fundraiser are slated for an early November installation. If you haven’t heard of this project, it was made possible by a very generous matching donation. We’ll be talking more about the kennel project in the very near future and, almost assuredly, asking for volunteers to lend a hand to make this complex project come together as seamlessly as possible.

So, it’s been full speed ahead. All hands on deck. Busy.

If you’ve gotten this far, let me make one final request: Please, spay and neuter your pets to help control the unwanted animal population in our communities. There are low-cost spay/neuter options you can ask us about. We also partner with All Creatures Veterinary Clinic on an income-based program called “SNIP it” to provide for spay neuter services on a sliding fee scale. This is a good program and if it results in one less litter of kittens or puppies being brought to the humane society, it’s a success.

So the writing hiatus is over; the work of telling the Humane Society of the Black Hills story starts again. I’m grateful to the Journal for giving me this opportunity to share our story — because “our” story is the communities’ story and I believe it’s one worth sharing.

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Have a comment for the Humane Society of the Black Hills? Something you would like to see addressed in a future column? Email Executive Director Jerry Steinley at operations@hsbh.org.

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