Western Hills Humane Society, Spearfish, South Dakota

Often, the best memories are made from surprises. To say South Dakota surprised us would be an understatement. We were unprepared for the amount of beautiful scenery and beautiful people that make up this great state. And we will never forget our restful time there soaking up the sunshine.


Western Hills Humane Society is located in Spearfish, South Dakota. They graciously accepted our visit, and were excited at giving us a tour, even though the shelter was closed that day.


The animals under their care certainly would love to be in a forever home, but for the time being, this is a pretty good place to reside too.


According to their website, the Western Hills Humane Society is a “no-kill, non-suffering pet shelter that protects, saves and enhances the lives of abused, neglected, forgotten and lost animals. Located in the beautiful Black Hills of Spearfish, South Dakota. In addition to donations and fundraising efforts, the shelter is generously funded by the City of Spearfish, Lawrence County, and various grants.  Western Hills Humane Society cares for approximately 600 animals a year. As a no-kill shelter some animals residents have been living at our shelter for several years patiently awaiting their forever home.  In 2015 Western Hills Humane Society received 258 surrendered animals and 349 police impounds.  196 of our police impounds went home to their owners and 327 were adopted to new homes”.


We were enthusiastically met by the shelter’s executive director, Becky Rankin, who wholeheartedly cares about the shelter, employees, volunteers and animals here.


It is hard to imagine the amount of work it takes to run a shelter. Yes, the goal is to place animals in forever, loving homes. But it takes so much work behind the scenes from cleaning, accounting, managing employees and volunteers and then potential adopters. Becky does all of this with a smile, an infectious laugh and a sense of humor which we appreciated.


She filmed the latest episode of Stop Hounding Me with us in one of their relaxing cat rooms which even has an outside area for cats to bask in the sun.


She told us about a program that was most exciting to us…Seniors For Seniors and yes, she had to bark like a dog.

Thanks to this week’s donators, 4-Legger, Bowser Beer, SqueakNSnap and Your Dog’s Diner.

As …explained, their Senior For Seniors program benefits not only their senior animals, but senior people as well!  Their program matches senior dogs and cats (typically over 8 years) with senior citizens in the Spearfish, South Dakota area who are at least 62 years young. We all know that animals help with depression, and this program gives these seniors a purpose in life and a deserving animal a home. Their elderly community is apparently very important to them, and we applaud them for their efforts.


Another program that the Western Hills Humane Society offers is their Pet Pantry. This service allows pet parents a means to feed their animals if they are financially unable to do so.


One of the reasons we picked them as our South Dakota rescue stop was the way they so loving explained this program on their Facebook page. For those of us that have ever been struggling, we know that our animals will eat first, even if we cannot. And this program for their community is one that is surely needed and appreciated.

Mitzy, a senior available for adoption

The Western Hills Humane Society also works with an organization called South Dakota Canine Center which Becky explained in the video.


Shelter dogs often have been given up due to behavioral issues. Well, these “issues” can work for their benefit! This is one of the most innovative ways to help shelter dogs that we have heard of. South Dakota Canine Center explains on their website that “even the most difficult and challenging canine friends have a place in life – sometimes a very special place.  Sadly a large percentage of these incredible dogs with so much potential, don’t fit well into the role of family pet.  We are determined to find these heroes – in shelters, rescues, even in current pet homes with folks who are about to give up on them – and help them find their way to a career that can ultimately save human lives!” Becky could not say enough good things about this organization and the success stories that they have had with some their shelter dogs being helped by South Dakota Canine Center.  How cool is this? I think maybe Brickle and Digby need to put their behavioral “skills” to good use!


As with so many shelters and rescues that we visit, volunteers are KEY to saving lives.  It is no different here at Western Hills Humane Society.  With limited funds, their few employees have so much work, and volunteers enable them to be able to do their jobs. We were told about one of their valued community supporters, Nicholas Jeffery Sukstorf who meant so much to them.  All of us in our lifetime should endeavor to make a difference, an impression…like Nicholas.


According to Becky, volunteers are one of their biggest needs.  If you are in the Spearfish, South Dakota area, consider volunteering! Not everyone can foster or adopt, but being a volunteer saves lives as well. From walking dogs, socializing cats, or office help, you can do your part! They cannot do what they do for our four legged friends without their community.


Even though this shelter is beautiful because of the people and animals here, Becky explained that she wants to make it so much better.  She believes that quality of life for a shelter animal is so important, and we could not agree more.


Her goals include remodeling some of the areas that animals are in awaiting their forever home.  But again, funds are sorely needed to improve.  So if you are inclined to help Western Hills Humane Society in one of the many ways we mentioned, please consider doing so for a wonderful organization.


We want to thank everyone at Western Hills Humane Society for welcoming us and agreeing to our visit.  This Adventure Of a Lifetime is possible only with everyone’s support.  We will be back to South Dakota one day.  That’s a promise.

Did you like the calendar we featured in the video?

Check Western Hills Humane Society’s website to pre-order yours today!


Here’s how to help Western Hills Humane Society!

Meet all of their awesome adoptable animals

Find out how you can volunteer

Find out how you can donate

Check out their events

Check out success stories, adoptables & lost and found pets on their Facebook page