Her story: As the executive director of the Central Dakota Humane Society (CDHS), Sue Buchholz works tirelessly to give animals a second chance. She has rescued dogs from puppy mills and cats and dogs from Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, one of her biggest challenges was lack of space.
IW: Do you still struggle to find space for animals?
SB: Desparately. That is an ongoing challenge. We have been here 15 years and we have four acres, which is plenty of room to expand. It was our dream to expand here, but we are on a septic system and last year we used 700,000 gallons of water.
We need to get on a city sewer system, find a place that the neighbors don’t object to, that is ‘industrial’, but close enough to town. We want to be an asset to the community, not a detriment. It has been a long process.
We were negotiating on some land, but Burleigh County has pulled all of their land for sale for potential sandbag recovery. We are looking at several sources and considering all options.
IW: Your story in 2008 mentioned the start of a capital campaign. Have you met your goals?
SB: It is still ongoing. We are interviewing architects and talking to other shelters about what works and what doesn’t. We just don’t know how long this property can sustain us.
IW: What part of your job is the most rewarding?
SB: Probably taking in an injured animal. It really doesn’t matter the time or expense, if they can be fixed, we will do it. Getting them healthy and into a loving home is really rewarding for me. But, I like everyone that comes in and I like it when they go out the door, because then I can take another one.
I know I am lucky, because I look forward to coming to work every day. It is rewarding in so many ways.
I also like to hear from the families that adopt the pets. We do good things for the pets, but we impact the families as well.
IW: If you could say one thing to the people who abandon their animals, what would you say?
SB: Pet overpopulation is a problem we can solve. It is as simple as spay and neuter, it will take care of that animal for its lifetime. Taking an animal into your home is a big responsibility, so it does take thought. Research the breeds and pick one that fits your lifestyle.
One thing we notice, most of the strays adapt quickly. Owner surrenders do not. They are used to a home and their people. Animals have deeper emotions than people give them credit for. People need to realize the emotional attachments that animals have with their owners.
IW: Who inspires you and why?
SB: My Mom, JoAnne Deringer would be my biggest inspiration. Her honesty and work ethic have molded me and been my guide as to the kind of person I want to be and to continually strive to do better. She has worked tirelessly since she was 9 years old and still volunteers 50 plus hours a week now that she is in her 70’s. Her selfless delight in caring for people and animals is genuine, stellar, and proof that compassion and caring can be instilled at a very young age.
BOOK: Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
MOVIE: Schindler’s List
QUOTE: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead