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Volunteers put the humane in Elmbrook pet facility

No-kill shelter appreciates all the help it can get

July 2, 2012

Brookfield - Lynn and Dick Cherwenka decided to volunteer at the Elmbrook Humane Society five years ago to help stray dogs.

They didn't know the animals would help them in return.

"We mainly came here to help the dogs get adopted and into a good home and it probably helps us just as much," Dick Cherwenka said at the humane society on Tuesday before taking one of the dogs for a walk. "You come here and have all kinds of things going on in your little world and after a few hours you forget about a lot of it. It's a two-way street."

Helping at the humane society, 20950 Enterprise Ave. in Brookfield, is the most rewarding volunteer experience Lynn Cherwenka has ever had. Five years ago, she walked her first dog at the humane society and took it home. She has been walking dogs ever since.

"You can't imagine how we all share the news if so-and-so got adopted, and it means a lot to us - and if they send pictures that's so nice, too," Lynn Cherwenka said.

The Cherwenkas teach the dogs manners from walking properly to sitting. Dick Cherwenka said it helps families looking to adopt an animal to see one that behaves.

It is volunteers such as Dick and Lynn who ensure the 2,500 animals that come through the humane society's doors each year are taken care of and find the perfect home, said Executive Director Karen Sparapani.

Without the 175 volunteers who take on various tasks, including fundraising, the humane society could not stay afloat.

The Elmbrook Humane Society has been in existence since 1964. It is a no-kill shelter that houses approximately 50 dogs and about 100 cats at any given time, Sparapani said.

"We will never euthanize an animal unless it's so ill it's not fixable and if it's a danger to be adopted out," she said.

The Elmbrook Humane Society services seven municipalities: The city of Brookfield, villages of Butler, Chenequa, Elm Grove, Nashotah and the towns of Brookfield and Delafield. It not only takes in animals from those communities, but also takes transfer animals from the Milwaukee County Animal Shelter and works with the Petsmart Rescue Waggin.

"I always encourage people to find out who their local shelter is. If your dog is missing, who's going to pick up your dog? That's the shelter you should support," Sparapani said. "We're very small shelter wise and we don't have a marketing budget and most people that live in Brookfield don't know we're here."

Though the goal is for pets to be adopted, the staff works to ensure they are adopted into the right home.

"We try to make sure we let people know what they're getting into," Sparapani said. She said they tell families details about the pets such as loud barking before the animal is adopted.

"Just because an animal might not be for you, it might be perfect for someone else."

For those looking to adopt, the humane society's animal viewing hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The animals available for adoption can also be viewed at the organization's website at ebhs.org.

In addition to running on volunteers, the Humane Society also runs mainly on donations.

"Mostly our entire budget is through donations," Sparapani said.

The Elmbrook Humane Society's largest fundraiser of the year, Wag Fest, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at Mitchell Park.

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