Keeping busy, looking forward to new challenges

I’m glad to be back on the pages of the Rapid City Journal after a short hiatus from writing a humane society column. I spent decades doing newspaper work and still believe media and newspapers are vital to a healthy, vibrant community and I’m proud to be part of the Journal even in this meager role.

But while my Humane Society of the Black Hills column took a short break from the fourth estate, the work at the humane society didn’t slow down for a minute. We’ve been busy caring for animals, doing our best to educate about spay and neuter, reaching out to business partners and community, and being thankful for our donors and volunteers.

We’ve also been managing change.

First, long time executive director Jacque Harvey accepted a challenge at an out of state shelter and packed up the house, the stuff, and the dogs and charged head on into her new life. I’ve talked to her a few times since she left; she’s doing well and still ready to share insights she gained after almost nine years at the Humane Society of the Black Hills. After Jacque left, the search for a new director ensued and, in late July, I was named Executive Director and am now charging head on into my own new life.

The Humane Society of the Black Hills mission statement has also changed. Earlier this year, we updated the mission statement to better reflect our commitment to a path moving forward. Our new mission – Serving Animals. Serving Community. – is simple and clear about our priorities and those things that are most important to us.

The Humane Society will always, first and foremost, serve the animals that come through the door in the best, most humane way possible. It’s a commitment we take seriously. In 2018 we took in 5,227 animals and it looks like we could exceed that number in 2019 and will do so with caring, committed staff.

And here’s some news I’m thrilled to share: After a few minor speed bumps along the way, the new kennels from the Homes for the Holidays fund raiser are slated for an early November installation. If you haven’t heard of this project, it was made possible by a very generous matching donation. We’ll be talking more about the kennel project in the very near future and, almost assuredly, asking for volunteers to lend a hand to make this complex project come together as seamlessly as possible.

So, it’s been full speed ahead. All hands on deck. Busy.

If you’ve gotten this far, let me make one final request: Please, spay and neuter your pets to help control the unwanted animal population in our communities. There are low-cost spay/neuter options you can ask us about. We also partner with All Creatures Veterinary Clinic on an income-based program called “SNIP it” to provide for spay neuter services on a sliding fee scale. This is a good program and if it results in one less litter of kittens or puppies being brought to the humane society, it’s a success.

-Jerry Steinley, Executive Director of the Humane Society of the Black Hills

K93K and Dog Carnival

The K93K and Dog Carnival will be the Humane Society of the Black Hills annual summer event! Held right here at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, 1820 East St. Patrick Street, we’ll host a fun walk/run with vendors and activities.

You do NOT need to register for the fun run/walk to attend the Dog Carnival and visit the vendors and activities.

Learn more about this dog friendly walk/run and event to support the Humane Society of the Black Hills!

Social media is a great tool, but be careful out there

Social media has provided the Humane Society of the Black Hills (HSBH) with affordable and effective tools to reach thousands of people concerned about animal welfare and the challenges of managing the unwanted animal populations in our communities.

But just recently, the HSBH was made aware of events generated from social media platforms which were designed to, apparently, mislead other users. Both of these events referenced the local humane society and neither was legitimate.

At the HSBH, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are used to say thanks to those who have donated time and supplies, highlight adoptable animals, and tell our story day in and day out.

Unfortunately, with 2.2 billion active users on Facebook alone, it’s not surprising there are questionable characters out there misusing others’ good names.

So, in light of the two recent events – one suggesting action was needed to release a fictitious animal, and, the other suggesting a group was taking in multiple puppies to save them from euthanasia – we want to remind our friends how we use social media, and how we don’t.

The Humane Society of the Black Hills doesn’t use social media to share financial or personal information. If you receive a notice on your social media platform that that has happened, be extremely skeptical and either:
• Call (605) 394-4170 and speak with a representative; or,
• Stop down and see us in person at 1820 E. St. Patrick Street.

The HSBH won’t conduct private business on social media; the HSBH won’t request reclaim funds via social media. If you receive a message via social media that the HSBH needs money from you, has an animal in the shelter, or needs personal financial information from you, call us or stop down because it’s very, very unlikely it’s legitimate.

The goal of the HSBH is to care for the unwanted animals in our community. If you ever receive a message or see a post that is counter to that thinking, be skeptical.

The HSBH is an open admission shelter and, last year, took in 5,227 animals. That was accomplished with a supportive community, a dedicated board of directors, and employees that gave it all and a little more sometimes to keep things working. That is a lot of positive energy we don’t want to see derailed by misrepresentations on social media.

Call us or stop down if you ever have questions about the operation, the animals, or how we’re using social media.

Holiday Dogs: Shelter dogs find a home for Christmas

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Humane Society of the Black Hills is embarking on the first Holiday Dogs program to put 10 shelter dogs into temporary holiday homes for Christmas.

Ten families who meet the criteria will welcome a Humane Society shelter dog into their homes from Dec. 23 to Dec. 26, giving the dog a break from the shelter environment, a chance to socialize with a family, and giving the family a furry friend for the holidays.

“We saw this idea done over Thanksgiving at a Virginia shelter and just knew we had to try it here,” Jacque Harvey, Director of the Humane Society of the Black Hills said. “It’s such a good opportunity for both the dogs and the families that temporarily adopt them to do something different, something special, for Christmas.”

There will be basic guidelines interested families must meet before getting on the list for the Holiday Dog program. For instance, Holiday Dogs can’t be placed in homes with any other animals and the temporary foster families must live in Rapid City or the immediate area.

Those interested in getting involved with the Holiday Dogs program must email Harvey at and will then be directed to the next steps and timelines.

“We’re keeping this first effort simple and putting some controls in place to avoid potential issues,” Harvey said. “However, each animal in the program will be vetted to ensure it has a good disposition to visit a home for the holidays.”

Each year the Humane Society of the Black Hills sees more than 2,000 dogs come through the front door, many in need of care and shelter and almost all in need of a forever home. The Holiday Dogs program will only reach 10 dogs this year but, for those 10, the program will provide a much-appreciated break from their daily routines.

“Many families don’t have pets anymore but still feel that pull to have an animal in the house. This is a good chance to just give back to an animals for a short time,” Harvey said. “You wouldn’t believe what a difference that can make to a shelter dog.”

Black Berry’s long journey ends with a homecoming

(12/1/2018) Black Berry the cat caught a flight home to California Tuesday morning thanks to a loving family that never gave up hope. Black Berry was brought in as a stray after getting away from the family in August. They were heartbroken. Fortunately he had a microchip so his owners were contacted and arranged his flight home.

Here’s the families’ story:

“We are a Marine family and I have been serving for 19 years (4, January 2019). I received orders to California and had to transition from North Carolina. We utilized the time allotted to do a cross country road trip. We were headed to Mt. Rushmore and had previously stopped in Badlands National Park and made our way to Rapid City to stop for the night.
In the morning when we were loading up to head out to Mount Rushmore we realized Black Berry had somehow slipped away undetected. After a few hours of searching we had to move forward with the plan of the day. After visiting Mount Rushmore we headed back to Rapid City to search for him with no luck.
We finally arrived in California and contacted the Humane Society on several occasions and they stated that he had not been recovered. We kind of gave up hope but my daughter Emma prayed daily for his return; she personally always believed in her heart that he would make his way back into our lives. Needless to say we were all in shock, disbelief and overwhelmed with joy when we found out he had been recovered.
Black Berry was a rescue, he was at our house one day in December 2016. I fed him once and that was it – he never left our home. He became part of the family and we never considered giving him up when we found out we had received orders. He is a great cat, not needy and fits right into our lifestyle. We all appreciate his company when he feel like being social. (Ha Ha).”

Jodie takes Black Berry out of his kennel for the last time as he starts his journey home.



Shawna, left, and Connie at Delta got Black Berry checked in at Rapid City Regional Airport.





Home safe and sound! Briana and Emma will probably be spoiling Black Berry for a while.

Microchip ends cat’s year-long journey

When Kim Goodwin came to the Humane Society of the Black Hills to pick up her long-lost cat Cam, she said it had been an emotional day.

She had gotten in the call that morning that Cam was alive and well, having been picked up on Nemo Road about seven miles from home and brought to the Humane Society as a stray.

“My daughter and I just burst into tears,” she said.

Cam had been missing for just more than a year. Kim said Cam was indoor/outdoor cat but in September 2017 when their home burned down they moved to a ranch in the Nemo Road area and Cam became a barn cat. Sadly, one day Cam was accidentally let out of the barn.

But Kim had Cam microchipped when he had wandered before because, she said, she just didn’t want to lose him. That investment paid off.

Cam looked a little rough around the edges when Kim picked him up but he apparently fared well in the past year. And we’re sure he’ll be getting plenty of attention – as an indoor cat – in the future.

“This is one of the best things that has happened since getting into the new house,” Kim said.


The Humane Society of the Black Hills encourages microchips for all pets so we can hear more great stories about pets getting home. Microchipping is available here, no appointment necessary, $40 for intact animals and $25 for animals that have been spayed or neutered.

Provide the right shelter for pets this winter

Winter weather is approaching, and all our officers at the Animal Services and Enforcement department will be tasked with doing welfare checks to make sure animals have proper shelter from the winter weather, including the cold, wind, and snow.

Are you in compliance?

Keep in mind these points that the Animal Services and Enforcement officers check when doing a welfare check for adequate shelter:

  • Is it a proper shelter, and does it provide protection from the weather?
  • Is the shelter structurally sound? Is it completely surrounded on three sides and have a properly sized entryway on the fourth? Does it have a leak-proof roof? Does the shelter have a floor or base to prevent the ground from coming into direct contact with the animal?
  • Is the entryway appropriate to keep the heat inside?
  • Is the shelter insulated? Tarps and canvas don’t provide the necessary insulation from the cold.
  • Is the shelter permanent? A picnic table or a car is not adequate shelter! Shelters should resemble dog houses or other similar structures.
  • Is the shelter accessible? If the animal is on a chain, it is required to have “convenient access” to the shelter. It should be able to get inside and not get tangled.
  • Is the shelter the right size? A properly sized shelter means the animal should be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down. If it’s too large, it’s not going to maintain adequate ambient temperature.
  • Is the shelter clean and wholesome? While animals generally don’t waste in their shelters, make sure excrement is removed as soon as possible to avoid making their home dirty.
  • Does the shelter provide adequate resources? For example, water freezes when the temperature drops. Dogs that are outside need a heated water bowl so they always have access to clean water.

There’s an old myth that dogs don’t feel the cold, or that breeds like Huskies and Malamutes don’t need shelters because they like the cold. While it’s true that some dogs might choose to stay outside in the cold, it’s legally required to give them that choice and to provide a shelter.

And when in doubt, just bring them inside. Pets are our family, after all.

If you would like to read more about regulations pertaining to animals, see:

Adoption Event

The Humane Society of the Black Hills will be on-site at Petsmart with adoptable dogs and puppies giving adopters the chance to meet the animals and take them home from the event. The Humane Society of the Black Hills is open regular business hours during this off-site adoption event.

$100,000 Homes for the Holidays Opportunity

Update: We’ve hit our goal! An incredibly generous community has donated $50,000 for these matching funds. Donations received through the end of this year which are received in addition to the goal amount will be directed to the kennel project. Thank you for the support!

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Sept. 5, 2018) ― An anonymous sponsor will match up to $50,000 in donations for “Homes for the Holidays” to provide new kennels and habitats for all of the animals at the Humane Society of the Black Hills.

There are new, safer, more comfortable kennel designs available for dogs and cats at the Humane Society of the Black Hills. The current kennels are showing signs of age and the design can lead to injury to some animals.

Now through Dec. 31. 2018, donations to the Humane Society designated for “Homes for the Holidays” will be matched dollar for dollar and dedicated to new kennels for dogs, cats, and all of the other species that come through the Humane Society doors. Donations for “Homes for the Holidays” are doubled in this matching funding opportunity meaning $50,000 in donations becomes $100,000 for the animals!

“This is an amazing opportunity for the Humane Society of the Black Hills to provide new habitats for, not only the dogs, but all of the animals that come through the doors,” said Humane Society director Jacque Harvey. “The new kennels will provide the dogs and cats more comfort while they’re waiting to be adopted into their forever homes.”

With this generous matching funding 70 chain link-style dog kennels and 146 cat kennels will be replaced, state of the art, more sanitary, more sound proof kennels which are safer for both the community and the animals.

“Our current kennels are showing signs of age,” Harvey said. “There has been some corrosion and damage which can increase the risk for an animal to injure itself; we’re anxious to get these kennels replaced to provide a safer, less stressful, more comfortable environment for the animals.”

Vendors and kennel designs are currently under review and a design will be selected based on safety, quality, and animal comfort. After funding is secured, kennel replacement will begin in the first half of 2019 and will continue until funding is exhausted. Dog kennels on the adopt floor will be replaced first followed by cat habitats on the adoption floor. Other exotic animal habitats will be added for the first time ever.

About the Humane Society of the Black Hills

The Humane Society of the Black Hills (HSBH) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has worked with the community to provide shelter and care for lost and abused animals for nearly 50 years. The HSBH currently operates the only major animal shelter west of the Missouri River in South Dakota.

Long Range Rescue

It was a long trip for 12 pit bulls – 3 days and 1,700 miles from North Carolina to Rapid City, SD – but their journey started long before getting to the Humane Society of the Black Hills on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. These dogs were rescued in Georgia, transported to the rescue in North Carolina, and there received training and evaluation to ready them for adoption.

Today, the dogs are undergoing further evaluations at the Humane Society of the Black Hills and will soon be ready for adoption. Special adoption rules will apply so if you’re interested call or stop at the Humane Society for more information.

Animal Services & Enforcement Officer Michael Holcomb explains more in this video.

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