Jackie Stanislawski has a soft spot for animals.
As she walks through the Humane Society of Waupaca County, she checks on a cat that is nursing its newborn kittens.
Later, a raspy bark attracts Stanislawski’s attention, and she makes sure to alert the young woman who has just arrived to work her shift.
For 25 years, Stanislawski has served as the president of the Humane Society of Waupaca County’s board.
"I used to be here every day," she said. "I have learned to not micromanage. I’m usually in and out two to three times a week."
The local humane society recently recognized her years of service by presenting a plaque to her.
Describing herself as a hands-on board president, Stanislawski says it is time for a new leader.
She remembers how she came to be the board’s president.
In the mid 1980s, Stanislawski read a couple articles in the newspaper about a group of people who wanted to start a local humane society. She sent a few donations.
Several years later, Stanislawski received an invitation to attend their annual meeting as a dues member.
"They didn’t have a lot of attendance. I think the members had burned out," she said. "They needed a president. I said I could do that. I can run a meeting. I think the first night, I was president."
That was in 1987.
A few people continued to attend the meetings, and there was trickling of donations.
Meetings were held at various locations in the community, including the basements of a bank and the library and also at the courthouse.
At one point, some members wanted to disband.
"I said that instead of giving the money to someone else, let’s keep going and use the money to educate," Stanislawski said.
Soon, the group met the person who would eventually become the operations manager.
Monica Gardner was a pet groomer and wrote a letter, offering her assistance.
"We had no place. We weren’t taking animals," Stanislawski said. "What we did was educate and and have spayed and neuter promotions."
Gardner had a spare room, and that was the beginning of the local humane society taking cats.
"We had a core group of volunteers that would clean and take care of the cats," Stanislawski said.
They sheltered and found adoptive homes for the cats.
Often, there were as many as 10 cats there, and eventually, it got to be too much to handle out of Gardner’s home.
In 1999, the humane society moved to Faulks Bros. Construction’s old gravel pit office.
It took many donations to get it going, including a water heater, furnace and plumbing.
"We just had cats then. We didn’t have the set-up for dogs," Stanislawski said, remarking that they also had a lot of mice in the building.
During the years it operated there, homes were found for more than 2,000 cats and kittens. In addition, the humane society partnered with the PetSmart Luv A Pet Adoption Center in Grand Chute.
It was in the spring of 2006 that the humane society moved to a new building on Commercial Drive, behind the Waupaca Municipal Airport-Brunner Field.
The following fall, they were ready to begin housing dogs.
"We applied for grants and just kept striving and continuing to grow," Stanislawski said.
Today, the Humane Society of Waupaca County has one full-time employees and almost 10 part-time employees.
"At times, we have had as many as 100 cats," Stanislawski said. "We like to keep the population around 50 to 75 for cats. With dogs, we can easily do 19."
The humane society uses a variety of means to find homes for the dogs, cats and even rabbits that it houses.
She said the Internet has especially opened up adoptions.
"People have come from Michigan and stayed overnight to adopt dogs," she said. The donations the humane society receives are used to do such things as feed the animals, cover their medical expenses and also pay the costs of maintaining the building.
The cats and dogs coming into the center are vaccinated, tested and spayed or neutered.
The center can be reached at 715-258-2545. Visit it online at waupacahumane.org.
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