BY: Chris Haise

Just over the bridge on Wisconsin Avenue sits the Milwaukee Campus of the Wisconsin Humane Society, an organization with a long history of service in the area.

Early Years

super dogThe Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) was founded in 1879. It was one of many organizations launching in the wake of the birth of the country’s first humane society, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The WHS has since worked constantly to prevent cruelty to all animals, lobby for humane animal legislation, and to educate people regarding the humane treatment of animals.

In its current form, the WHS receives no general government funding while operating facilities in five counties, servicing tens of thousands of animals annually. Unaffiliated with any national organization, the WHS has managed to provide an oasis now for 140 years and counting.

Serving the Community

The Milwaukee Campus of the WHS is the largest facility the nonprofit group maintains.

While the nature of specific services provided has changed throughout the years, the Wisconsin Humane Society has always aimed to provide life-saving assistance to animals of all kinds.


Adoption, re-habitation and finding homes for animals is a large part of what this organization does. Across the state, the WHS works tirelessly to find permanent homes for the animals in their care.

The WHS has many related resources to help potential adopters find the perfect match in their new pet. Along with healthcare and up to date shots and vaccines, the WHS also offers perks to those gracious enough to welcome a new animal into their home. New owners can take advantage of everything from free initial veterinary exams to discounted grooming.

Adoption may be the best-known service of the Humane Society, but there are many other important ways the WHS services the community and its pets.


dogsThe WHS offers regular dog training classes and seminars, as well as behavioral consultations.

Training classes are available for dogs of all ages and dispositions, whether you have a puppy in need of the basics, a dog in need of some better manners, or a shy dog who needs help socializing.

The WHS also has workshops and seminars on dog behavior, pet first aid, and more. If your needs for your animal are more personalized than the training offered, you can receive behavior consultations from the Society’s experts.

By providing in-depth behavioral services, the Humane Society contributes to the welfare of all area pets, in addition to serving the needs of those they’ve personally cared for.

Vaccines, Spay/Neuter, end of life services.

The scope of what the WHS does for all animals is evident in the vital resources they provide for the most important parts of animal care. They offer regular vaccination clinics at all campuses, yet another service offered in an effort to keep animals healthy and happy. The WHS also focuses on proper animal control through its West Allis Spay/Neuter Clinic. The clinic’s stated goal is to “reduce animal homelessness through affordable access to these crucial procedures.” The clinic has regular weekly hours and appointments are available.

Even in the hardest times of pet ownership, those times when you have to help a loved companion go on to their final reward, the WHS can provide a helping hand. The WHS takes pride in providing compassionate, low-cost euthanasia services. All five campuses also provide communal and private cremation services.

Aware of the challenges the end of life transition can pose, the organization also hosts a monthly Pet Loss Seminar at the Milwaukee campus, providing a space for discussion and remembrance in pet loss, as well as suggestions for coping.

Need based giving

One of the most heartwarming offerings from the Humane Society is the Pet Food for Families in Need service. Determined that financial hardship should not come between people and their pets, the organization offers pet food banks at their Milwaukee and Ozaukee Campuses

Supporting this program is simple: donating dog food (wet or dry), cat food (wet or dry), dog treats, cat treats, and/or kitty litter can help keep pets in homes where they are loved and cared for.

Youth Programs

kittyLove of animals starts in childhood, and the Wisconsin Humane Society is determined to foster and nurture that love in the community’s youth.

The program of Youth Events run by the WHS includes day camps for animal lovers, Kid’s Night Out with animal centered fun and games, and even a Young Advocates Club for the budding conservationist in your family. The WHS also hosts birthday parties where kids can interact with adoptable animals and all proceeds of the event will benefit the animals.

In addition to direct outreach, the WHS has a website with resources and links for teachers and adults to continue the education in humane treatment outside of the Society. Teachers in particular, have access to everything from field trip planning and newsletters, to instructions on how to make a bird-safe classroom.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Unique to the Milwaukee Campus of the WHS is the extremely busy Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Here, they care for creatures such as birds, owls, bats, and even small mammals like squirrels and raccoons.

As an urban wildlife center, these trained specialists encounter a wide variety of animals, handling over 150 different species each year. Along with rehabilitation, the center aims to ultimately release most of the treated animals back into the wild.

The WHS also runs the Wildlife Hotline, which serves thousands annually by providing vital information to prevent conflicts and avoid negative confrontations with wildlife in our area.

For safety concerns, the animals in the Wildlife center are not accessible to the public, though portions of the center are included in the public tours offered by the WHS.


Currently, the MADACC provides stray animal and animal control services for our areas. Outside of Milwaukee County in Racine and Ozaukee counties, the Humane Society is often the front line for securing and protecting stray pets.

The WHS website provides helpful tips for finding lost pets, as well as a section on Pet Loss Prevention, which is undoubtedly helpful to all responsible pet owners.

Ways to Give


The mission of the Wisconsin Humane Society is clear, and so is their path forward. They rely entirely upon the generosity of people like you.

With no affiliation to national organizations, nor general government funding, the WHS is funded purely through the generous support of community-minded companies, foundations, and caring individuals.

The organization has what they call “constant companions,” an affectionate term for those sponsors making regular monthly contributions. They also make it easy to leave a legacy of love and health for animals through their planned giving options, which the WHS describes as a “win-win situation.”

For any type of giving, the organization is there every step of the way, providing professional advisors and supporting your personal strategies for giving. With so many creative solutions, it’s easy to get involved and support the work of the Wisconsin Humane Society.

The WHS also encourages:


girl with snakeAlong with regular (and tax-free!!) donations, the organization leverages the giving spirit of the community with regular events, all aimed to place and support the animals they care for.

Black tie affairs like the annual Paws and Claws Gala has all the staples of a night on the town with cocktails, auctions, games and prizes, great food, and more. The Pfister isn’t too shabby for a setting either.

There’s also the holiday lighting ceremony, Hope’s Lights MKE, when the WHS will light up the building and grounds to celebrate the holidays and honor all homeless animals. The evening includes behind the scenes tours, drinks and snacks, and friendly animal greeters. This year’s event is held Sunday, December 8th, from 5:30 -7:00 PM at the Milwaukee Campus of the WHS.


Volunteering and working with animals in need always offers individuals a rewarding experience, and as such, the WHS welcomes all interest in their mission. They declare that those who donate their time play a truly vital role in the ongoing success of every local effort.

However, they do require extensive training and commitments from those who would like to get involved, and for obvious reasons. Here are just a few of the requirements the WHS asks from potential volunteers —

  • “We ask for a 6-month commitment offering 2-3 hours each week. Volunteers come in for a regularly scheduled, recurring shift on the same day and time each week.
  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Youth ages 13-17 must be accompanied by an adult for all volunteer sessions.

Most volunteer roles require volunteers to:

  • be able to stand, and/or walk for up to 3 hours;
  • be able to lift and carry up to 20 lbs. Some positions are more physical than others and require being able to lift 40 lbs.”

For complete details and the various ways to volunteer with the society, please visit their website

Along with the website, the best place to start your journey with the WHS is to attend a Volunteer Info Session. You can register for the recurring event on their website, and it is a requirement to attend for all potential volunteers.

The Work Continues

The Wisconsin Humane Society makes a profound impact on the well-being of countless animals in our community. The organization is also a tremendous resource for pet owners and animal lovers.

In a season marked by the power of giving, we hope you explore the many ways you can support the mission of the WHS, along with the other organizations we try to feature in Service for the City. As for the animals in need that find their way to the Wisconsin Humane Society, a history of dedicated service shows they are in very caring hands.