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The History of Metroport Humane Society

This year we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Metroport Humane Society. Read on to learn about our history!

Metroport Humane Society In the Beginning…

By Sally Bigley, first MHS president

When asked to recall the beginning of MHS, I said “Sure, I remember it well…” Well 20 years have passed and along with those years many of the details I thought I remembered. So, my best effort will be to briefly reminisce on how it all began. However, those of you who remember me know I was never good at the brief part!

In the beginning, there was a very dedicated team of volunteers who spent many hours working at the animal shelter in Roanoke which was at that time, operated by the Humane Society of North Texas as a Satellite shelter serving northern Tarrant County. We were a group of volunteers who did everything we could to help in any way.

For several reasons including the fact that the shelter consistently operated at a loss, it was determined by HSNT to close the facility to the public and discontinue placing animals for adoption. The facility lacked “public appeal” and adoption numbers were considered to be low with no marketing or little corporate support.

News of the shelter closing left us all floundering. We knew that this geographic area would be left with very little focus on helping the animals. In the early ‘90s, rescue groups were not as prevalent as they are today. We knew that the public wouldn’t know where to turn if they had some types of animal issues.

So we decided we could at least set up a phone answering service, so to speak, and let volunteers handle the calls from their homes and at least point people in a helpful direction. So Joe and I added a 2nd phone line at our house (not all that common in those days), under our name, to keep costs to a minimum. This would allow us to continue helping the animals while we began to put together a master plan to create a new animal shelter and run it ourselves. That would take time and a lot of money.

 

Enter the vision…
As I recall it was Shirley Bond who first had the vision that we could place animals without having a shelter! Actually a novel idea for those times. In the past Shirley had helped at the Roanoke Animal Hospital with vet Steve Harris, matching pets needing homes with folks looking for a new pet. She did this using descriptions and photos on a bulletin board at the clinic. It was successful.

So, the volunteers began to have hope. From here we decided to go forward. The phones were working, and we were successfully helping animals in our community. We used foster homes and advertised in the local newspapers with descriptions and photos. Now we had to figure out how to really organize and build a solid business.

Creating a Humane Society
We contacted the Humane Society of the United States in Washington D.C. to ask them if they had any advice on how to start a humane society. And they did! They sent us a great book which proved to be invaluable in helping us to make good decisions at the beginning.

How we got our Name…
We might have loved to be the Fuzzy-Cuddly-Bark & Purr Rescue Club, but that just wouldn’t hack it. HSUS advised that it was critically important to define the precise geographic area we would serve. Plus it reflected that we were serious about our business of helping animals.

Eventually we gathered the “forces that be” in our living room to talk about the idea of having an organization that could help the communities with their animal issues since the shelter had closed. Also present that evening were key volunteers Susie Turner, Shirley Bond, and Gary Tomlin from the local newspaper, plus Steve Harris DVM, Trophy Club Mayor Jim Carter and Southlake Mayor Gary Ficus and probably others I can’t remember. We talked about many issues including a distinctive name. “Metroport” was a new name being used to define an economic development area between the two airports, including at that time, eight cities or towns. With the strength and support of the Big Guys behind us, we adopted Metroport Humane Society for our name, though it sure wasn’t very cute!

Next came the Bylaws….
As we continued building our inner structure we used the HSUS guidebook like a Bible. It carefully led us through the requirements for a good, solid set of bylaws which we would use for years to come in governing MHS. It took about three months and many meetings to write the bylaws. We were trying to make the best possible decisions for the future of this young organization.

The Mission Statement…
Immediately into the by-law process we were confronted with needing a clear, decisive Mission Statement. That night lasted for hours as we sat trying to articulate what MHS was about, and figuring out how we could concisely word it. Finally the assorted words fell together and rolled off someone’s tongue. It was perfect. I remember using our Mission Statement to answer virtually any question we had about how to handle almost any situation we confronted.


“ The Mission of Metroport Humane Society is
to Prevent the Birth of Unwanted Animals and
to Improve the Lives of those Already Born.”

A side note, years later I was visiting a young Humane Society in Washington State and chatting with the Director whom I had known for several years. A few years earlier she had asked how we were getting started and organized, etc. so I had added her to our mailing list for our wonderful Poop Scoop Newsletter. She offered me a copy of their newsletter – and there at the top was our Mission Statement – verbatim! I felt so honored. She said they had struggled for a long time trying to come up with what they knew was right for them. Don’t they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery or something like that?!

I always felt that MHS had a “guardian angel” kind of keeping us on track and somehow steering us to right decisions. We knew early that it was important to keep good records, to be dutiful stewards of funds, always checking their use against our Mission Statement; we had written an operations manual and we had some history of experience.


Incorporating as a Non-Profit Charity…
With the Mission Statement established, the bylaws done, our record keeping in place, our tax number in hand, and a great historical base because of our experience working at the shelter and our ongoing daily work with the phones, we were ready for the biggest step of all. It was time to incorporate as an official non-profit 501(3) charitable organization.

Joe Bigley serving as our treasurer took on this complicated task. Southlake Attorney Rick Wilhelm volunteered to review our application and bylaws. He filed the necessary papers with the State of Texas and didn’t charge us a penny for his time and expertise. He later told us that it was the first time he had seen an application for a non-profit incorporation go through on the very first effort! See, we really did have “guardian angels” watching out for us.

And so… on June 1, 1992 Metroport Humane Society was incorporated as a non-profit 501(3) charitable organization in the State of Texas. I am so proud of what this organization has done and the standards that have been upheld over so many years and that we never had to jump ship and reorganize or split off in separate directions. To me, it is testimony to the fact that those who are drawn to be a part of MHS do so from the purest centers of their beings and from their love for and kindness towards animals everywhere.

Sally Bigley
January 26, 2012

Memories of the early days

  • Floats in Christmas parades in Grapevine and Roanoke
  • Garage Sales that were so much work and so much fun and always profitable bringing in $2000 to $3000 each.
  • Sleeping in our car at a Garage Sale site to make sure we were there at dawn
  • Burning an unsold hide-a-bed in Susie Turner’s pasture following the garage sales
  • Adopt-a-Pets
  • MHS Christmas cards where a dog asks Santa for a home for every pet
  • Hooters Car Washes to benefit MHS
  • Great Summer picnics
  • Awesome Christmas parties with all the volunteers plus some folks we didn’t even know
  • Discount Vaccination clinics at the Animal Clinic with Victor Sancho DVM
  • Obedience Classes offered by Karen Vass
  • MHS t-shirts, sweatshirts & sweatpants
  • Writing the Tippy pet advice column for the Sunday edition Star Telegram for 3+ years
  • Cleaning cat condos at Petco
  • Wonderful, wonderful people…

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