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Catching up with IndyHumane CEO David Horth

David Horth and his Portuguese water dog, Splash.

David Horth is happy with his first full year as CEO of The Humane Society of Indianapolis (IndyHumane). The shelter has met all – and exceeded some – of its goals in 2019 under Horth, a longtime Board member who now leads the nonprofit, no-kill facility on Indy’s Northwestside.

“We have had a good year and I’m proud of our team,” says Horth, rubbing the head of Splash, his Portuguese water dog who came to work with him the day we talked.

One of Horth’s goals was to rebuild IndyHumane’s development department, which raises the money that keeps an organization going. “It happened beautifully,” he says. “Our development dollars are up in every category and Amy Tobias, our Chief Development Officer, is doing a nice job for us. The team is 100 percent new and 100 percent fabulous.”

Horth says he is extremely grateful to everyone who donates to IndyHumane, from big corporations to individuals. This past year has seen several major donations including a recent one for $50,000. “It’s both big and small donors who sustain us,” he says. “The average donation is $75, and we receive around $1.5 million a year. A nonprofit can never have enough money. I am so pleased with our development efforts.”

An outside public relations firm hired to expand the shelter’s exposure has been beneficial, and a full-time Director of Animal Welfare Collaboration, Stacy King, was hired to pursue opportunities with other animal welfare agencies. “We have shared resources with other agencies, both large and small, to both of our benefits,” says Horth.

A new program, a summer camp for kids who have been bullied, was initiated this year. The shelter worked with child welfare agencies to implement the program. A new program that involves people with Down Syndrome also is planned in the next few months. And each summer, there are several opportunities for kids who love animals to attend volunteer camps, sometimes with their parents, to learn about animal welfare.

Splash's breed is hypoallergenic because she only has one coat.

IndyHumane’s biggest fundraiser, Mutt Strut, was very successful last year, says Horth. “It broke the record as the most successful fundraiser since 2009. We raised almost $311,000 for the shelter.” (This year’s Mutt Strut will be April 25 at its usual spot, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

One of the most important changes in 2019, according to Horth, was the restructuring of the entire IndyHumane staff. This involved letting some people go at the top, and beefing up staff which has direct contact with the animals.

“It was unfortunate that we had to lose some people, but we gave more power to the people who work closely with the animals,” Horth explains.

“We also went from three veterinarians to five on staff. Many people don’t realize that we have a substantial surgery suite where we do amazing things to help the animals, save their lives and make them ready for adoption. We’ve also expanded our foster care, which is the least expensive way to care for our dogs and cats.”

IndyHumane also has reconstituted the downtown spay/neuter and vaccine clinic, located at 456 N. Holmes Ave., offering an increase in surgeries with two vets on staff each day.

Another change was turning the adoption shelter, at 7929 Michigan Road, from a dull brown building to a cheerful yellow during a $400,000 renovation that also included a new roof and maintenance repairs.

What does the CEO foresee for 2020?

“We’ve gone through many transitions and changes, and in 2020 I hope we can perfect those changes,” says Horth. “We’ve had a 10 percent increase in adoption levels, and I’m hoping adoption revenues will be up this year. We’re also looking forward to another successful Mutt Strut.

“It’s been great to work with the Board, which has participated in making the shelter a better place. I’m proud of the trajectory at IndyHumane. It was a joy to see the team navigate all of the changes in 2019 and what they are accomplishing with their skill sets.

“It’s a privilege to work here.”

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