Shelter Spotlight - Humane Society of North Texas

Lavanya Sunkara

About the Humane Society of North Texas

Pet shelters across North America have faced plenty of hardship over the past few years, as pandemic restrictions and lockdowns re-shaped the way the world works for everyone — animals included!

From staff shortages and increased safety protocols, to a drop in donations and backlog in spay/neuter surgeries, providing support for animals in need became more complicated for many shelters. And the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) was no exception.

However, according to shelter president, Susan Gulig, while the pandemic certainly tested the limits of HSNT staff, volunteers, fosters, and donors, it also encouraged the organization to return to its roots. As the oldest animal welfare organization serving the needs of animals in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, HSNT has more than 100 years of experience adapting and surviving to help animals in need...even in uncertain, trying times.

That heritage, along with the support of the community, has helped HSNT emerge from the pandemic not just unbroken, but even better able to serve the animals, pets, and people of the North Texas region.

Texas proud from the very beginning

Over its long history, HSNT has had several names and served several purposes. Originally called the Fort Worth Humane Society, it was founded in 1905 as an independent charitable organization “to protect women and children and to prevent cruelty to animals.”

Members of the fledgling Society had their work cut out for them. On the bustling streets of Fort Worth, they rescued overworked horses and mules from vicious beatings at the hands of their owners and helped women and children escape violence, abandonment, and worse.

But it soon became obvious that cruelty did not stop at the city limits. So the group expanded its reach and adopted a new name in 1910 — The Tarrant County Humane Society. Over many years, new laws protecting women and children emerged, but many animals still needed Tarrant County and beyond. So the organization narrowed its focus and broadened its reach once again, becoming the Humane Society of North Texas in 1982.

To this day, HSNT remains the largest and longest-standing non-profit animal rescue organization in North Texas. With a well-earned reputation for providing compassionate, humane care for animals in need, HSNT has become a trusted source for pet adoptions, low-cost spay and neuter programs, vaccinations, and more — including equine and livestock programs shaped by its rich history.

Improving the lives of thousands of animals

Much has changed at HSNT from the early days when its members would meet after hours in a local furniture shop. These days, the organization comprises multiple facilities in locations throughout North Texas.

HSNT’s main facility, located in Fort Worth, houses a companion animal adoption facility, an intake department, and a clinic. HSNT has four cat adoption centers through local PetSmart stores and three additional centers throughout North Texas — Benbrook Waggin Tails, Keller Welcome Home, and Keller Regional. The main location as well as the satellite locations are equipped to take all small animals, from mice to snakes.

The “mothership” — as the main location is often referred to — also houses an Animal Cruelty department where investigators are available around the clock to help North Texas authorities with investigating and documenting incidents of animal cruelty and neglect. At the 33-acre equine and livestock ranch in Johnson County, HSNT provides services for horses and livestock in need.

To ensure the health and well-being of companion animals in the North Texas area, HSNT offers low-cost vaccinations to residents on Thursdays, regardless of residency or income. The shelter’s Spay & Neuter It For Free (SNIFF) programs provide spay and neuter surgeries free of charge to animals owned in designated zip codes. As part of the program, the pet will receive spay or neuter surgery, rabies vaccination, flea medication, microchip, pain medication, and a cone collar for males.

Boosting adoptions through innovation

Thousands of animals go through HSNT where they are vetted, fed, cleaned, and prepared for either transport or adoption. Every other week, with help from generous donors, the shelter organizes air transport to move up to 200 animals to shelters and organizations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania where they already have loving families waiting for them. More recently, a plane full of puppies that had been fostered by volunteers in the North Texas area flew to the Northeast. HSNT sends 20 to 30 animals via ground transport monthly. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the staff and volunteers, close to 2,000 animals were transferred to rescue partners and found their forever homes last year.

In North Texas, HSNT’s fancy adoption trailers help drive adoptions. These trailers, equipped with pets ready for adoption, are parked in the lots of pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart from Friday to Sunday, 10 am to 3 pm. A press release with beautiful images and information on each of the animals is sent out ahead of time. Visitors to the trailers love spending time outdoors and getting to know their potential pets. Knowledgeable staff members onsite help match pets with the right families. Anywhere from 30 to 50 pets are adopted at a particular location during these weekend outings.

A “Rae of Hope” for older pet parents

Sometimes, due to financial hardships, pet parents have to decide whether to keep their beloved pets or surrender them. To help these families stay together, HSNT offers a program called Rae of Hope, launched in 2016 and named after a long-time supporter. It helps senior citizens in certain zip codes keep their pets by providing the animals with free basic veterinary care. The program helped 426 families in 2020 alone.

Crucial equine and livestock care

The Humane Society of North Texas is among the few shelters to take on the responsibility of helping horses and livestock in North Texas and surrounding areas.

If a horse owner falls on hard times financially and can’t provide healthcare for their equine, they may seek help through HSNT’s Vet Direct Program, which covers a percentage of the equine vet visit and even provides basic care and treats minor illnesses.

HSNT also comes to the rescue of horses where the owner chooses to rehome the animal and helps with the adoption to an approved home. On the property located in Johnson County, horses stay in spacious pastures or stalls until they find their new homes. Horses in need of training are handled by qualified staff. Other animals the shelter helps rehome include chickens, goats, pigs, cows, and other livestock.

For more information about the Humane Society of North Texas or to enquire about adopting, visit:


Lavanya Sunkara is an NYC-based writer who is passionate about animal welfare. She has been producing stories about pet care, rescue, adoption, and inspiring individuals in the pet world for the past decade. Her other passions include travel, volunteering, and her two adorable adopted dogs.