Philosophy & Mission


The animal welfare world defines “no-kill” in a variety of ways depending on the organization and their respective philosophies on who is considered “adoptable” or not.  Some define “no-kill” based on achieving a 90% “live placement rate.”  That means,    90% of the animals who enter your facility leave alive.  But what about the other 10%? 

The philosophy on which the No Kill movement was founded defines truly no kill as saving 100% of the animals in your care who are treatable (medical) or rehabilitatable (behavior)irrespective of age, breed, special medical needs, or disabilities. Because these particular animals are usually more expensive to save, and take more time to place–they often fall in that 10%.

Please note that No Kill does not mean that animals with untreatable or unmanageable conditions should be allowed to suffer.  Sometimes a peaceful and dignified passing is all we can offer the ones with metastatic cancer or devastating brain/internal injuries.

It is incredibly difficult for any shelter to reach a 90% placement rate. It is even more rare for open admission shelters like ours, who serve as both an animal control facility and humane society, to reach it.

The Humane Society for Hamilton County embraces the truly no-kill philosophy, so we never stopped working until we reached that goal.  We are incredibly proud to share that HSHC has consistently achieved a 98% or higher live placement rate since 2014.  And here are just a few examples of the “10%” we refuse to give up on.

Our Story

Our Mission

Our mission is saving lives, educating communities, and completing families.  When it comes to saving lives, HSHC takes in over 4,000 animals each year including hundreds at risk for euthanasia in other Indiana shelters.

Our community outreach programs connect children, seniors, Hoosier veterans and more with the healing power of pets every day…and our youth education programs are planting the seeds of kindness, responsibility, and philanthropy in thousands of children each year.

Our advocacy for animals reaches far beyond Hamilton County as we have taken a leadership role in fighting breed discrimination and better laws to protect animals.

The commitment to our mission doesn’t stop with Hamilton County. We’ve always shared available resources to save as many out-of-county animals as possible…and we won’t stop until all Hoosier animals have a chance to live, love, and be loved.

Measuring Our Impact


Animals Received In 2022


HSHC Placement Rate Percentage In 2022


Hoosier Animals Saved from Other Indiana Shelters and Non-Hamilton County Residents


Number of Lost Pets Reunited With Families In 2021

  • 1.

    We Serve as Both Animal Control & Humane Society

    The Humane Society for Hamilton County (HSHC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was founded in 1984. We are not affiliated with any other animal welfare group including Indy Humane, the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA or PETA.

    We contract with Hamilton County and its municipalities to shelter stray, unwanted and all animals found or seized by Animal Control or law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County.  This annual agreement covers only the basic cost to process and shelter an animal for 7 days per the Hamilton County ordinance.  It does not cover the cost of any life-saving medical care an animal may need, the cost of marketing and fundraising, spay/neuter, or any costs to shelter and care for animals after 7 days.

    This funding represents approximately 20% of our annual operating budget, with the remaining funds raised through individual donations (including bequests and gifts from trusts and stock),  HSHC fundraising events and programs, sponsorships, and grants–in that order.

    HSHC is lead by our President & CEO and Board of Directors.  MEET OUR TEAM.

  • 2.

    Saving Lives

    Becoming a truly no-kill shelter starts with how your define who is “adoptable.”  That definition varies from shelter to shelter, rescue to rescue.

    Staying true to the founding philosophy of no-kill, HSHC believes those with gray muzzles and disabilities, to those with life-threatening injuries or illnesses, are adoptable as long as they’re treatable and/or rehabilitatable.

    This includes “end-of life” or hospice animals who have a short time left but are still happy and loving life, as well as Feline Leukemia positive cats.

    HSHC also works with our local TNR/SNR programs to ensure feral cats and community cats receive the same chance.

  • 3.

    Educating Communities

    Our Community Outreach efforts include educational programs that teach the importance of responsible pet ownership, bite prevention, and philanthropy at all ages. We work with numerous Scout troops and teachers throughout the year, and we also collaborate with other non-profits to help at-risk youth in our community.

  • 4.

    Completing Families

    We’re committed to finding every adoptable animal a loving home. By focusing our efforts on dynamic marketing and placement programs, each of our animals gets the chance to find a happy, forever home… complete with happy, forever humans.

  • 5.

    Our Statistics

    Our annual placement rate (live release rate) is calculated according to our industry’s Asilomar Accords.  While there are some who consider a 90% live release rate to qualify as “no kill,” the true definition of “no-kill” according to the National No-Kill Advocacy Center means no animal is euthanized if it can have a quality life by receiving life-saving medical care, managed care, or be safely rehabilitated and adopted in circumstances involving behavior issues.

    2023 Statistics
    2022 Statistics
    2021 Statistics

    2020 Statistics
    2019 Statistics
    2018 Statistics
    2017 Statistics
    2016 Statistics
    2015 Statistics
    2014 Statistics

  • 6.

    Remarkable People

    Our employees, volunteers and board of directors are unwavering in their commitment to these animals. Our team works 365 days a year to ensure the animals we serve have the best life possible as they wait for a home. They’re the heart of HSHC…and they are remarkable.


Love & Let Live

Every animal deserves a second chance at love — and life. We invite you to be part of the solution and give back to the animals who give us so much.