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Metro East Humane Society faces high intake of pandemic pets, low adoption rates

"It's people returning to work, not having time for animals and people being evicted or not able to take care of their animals anymore."

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill — Our 'A Way Forward' series focuses on organizations making an impact in our community.

This week, we highlight the Metro East Humane Society.

The Metro East Humane Society has been serving five counties in southwestern Illinois since 1986, including Madison, St. Clair, Jersey, Bond, and Macoupin counties.

It's been serving the community for quite some time and in 2020, the pandemic threw the agency a curveball.

"When COVID hit, we saw this outpouring of support," said Executive Director Anne Schmidt. "We tripled our foster base at the start of COVID."

Adoptions skyrocketed, too.

"It was so much so that we had to start recruiting transports to bring us dog, cats, kittens, and puppies on a bi-monthly basis," said Schmidt.

Credit: KSDK

However, what followed in 2021 was the opposite.

"We saw a huge increase in returns here and then, we are next door to Madison County Animal Control and they saw a significant increase in intakes of owner surrenders," said Schmidt. "It's people returning to work, not having time for animals and people being evicted or not able to take care of their animals anymore."

During this time of change, the organization also acquired both the Highland Animal Shelter and Riverbend Pet Food Pantry. 

Credit: MEHS

Since it's a no-kill shelter, they are only able to help animals they have space for. That's why they fully renovated the Highland facility. 

It reopened the second location in April 2021.

Credit: MEHS

Right now, Schmidt says there are about 50-60 cats and dogs in the Edwardsville location and about 20-30 in Highland.

As it's the end of the year, it's all paws on deck to get these furry pets a loving home.

"These are animals found on the street or being surrendered because they couldn’t take care of them," said Schmidt. "The great thing about going through a rescue, you’re getting an animal that’s already spayed and neutered, you’re getting an animal evaluated for behavior."

Schmidt said the community stepped up during the height of the pandemic and she hopes it'll happen again.


  • Donations - to donate click here
  • Monetary contributions to its capital campaign - It will allow the organization to expand its medical suite in the Edwardsville facility and provide more low-cost and low-income veterinary services
  • Fostering - Typically, it needs fosters for puppies and kittens anywhere from two to three weeks
  • Adopting - Right now, there is an event running called "Empty the Shelters." Fees are $25 until December 20th.