• About Heart of the Catskills

  • Heart of the Catskills Humane Society: A Journey of Hearts

    The Beginning

    In 1968, hiding under the boards of an old barn in the rural, agricultural town of Delhi, New York, a little frightened terrier tried her best to protect and care for her new puppies. With no food and little shelter, she was in a helpless position. Thankfully, neighbors saw her plight and acted. Approaching the Delaware Valley Humane Society for refuge for the family, the neighbors were told there simply was no room. When asked what they could do, the shelter suggested that they start a shelter themselves. Armed with that advice and one hundred dollars in “seed money” donated by that shelter, a group of townspeople actively took the first step toward this goal. Then, an area farmer fixed up his sap house, found some old kennel runs and temporarily took care of the terrier family as well as some other dogs. The first animal shelter in Delhi had begun.


    When volunteers set about finding space for a permanent shelter, The Delaware County Historical Association stepped up and, for one dollar, sold the group an acre of land on which to build. With the hard work of a small group of supporters, the shelter became officially incorporated under the name of “The Humane Society of Central Delaware County, Inc.” and, thereafter, the shelter was built. The small but active group raised funds by having bake sales, auctions, and a membership drive, and began public meetings to raise awareness. Also, given the plight of the many stray cats in their farming community, some of the founding members started housing a few cats until they could be adopted.


    Beyond the founding members, many others pitched in to get the shelter off the ground. For instance, without the assistance of SUNY Delhi college students, the shelter would not have had enough volunteers or staff to survive. And, Delhi Animal Hospital and SUNY Delhi contributed greatly to the growth of the shelter, willingly donating their time, valuable advice, and medical care.


    While suffering some setbacks along the way, the staff and volunteers never turned back. The shelter became nationally recognized, twice mentioned in ASPCA’s Animal Watch publication. What the shelter lacked in facilities and finances, we more than made up for in creativity and compassion for the pets entrusted to us. And, the quality of care our pets receive was formally recognized by Julie Morris, Vice President of ASPCA’s National Shelter Outreach Division, in 1998. After visiting shelters coast to coast, Ms. Morris stated, “After I left your facility, I kept thinking that for some reason you had the best animals in the state for adoption. . .. Then, I realized the ‘secret’ was your relationship with the animals – your obvious and good citizenship program. The animals show it – they don’t have that desperate ‘get me out of jail’ posturing, but are able to project their true personalities and really look like they’d be great fun to have at home.” Through things like cat socialization, doggy play groups, and nature trail walking, we make sure this remains the case today.

    The Evolution

    We have continued to evolve. In 2005, after being referred to for years as “the little shelter with the big heart,” we adopted the name “Heart of the Catskills Humane Society” and introduced the new shelter logo that is widely recognized throughout the area today. We began offering humane education programs to local schools. We added a beautiful cattery and reception/grooming/adoption area through some generous donations. We began a Senior Pals program and a formal foster program. We opened the Gifts From the Heart store on the shelter grounds. We established the ever-growing Heart Walk made of commemorative bluestone pavers leading to the cat gazebo. And, we instituted a formal Planned Giving Program, which has grown over the years and has made much of this possible, including the recent replacement of our original dog kennels with new more functional and beautiful kennels and flooring that our wonderful staff and the public greatly appreciate.


    We continue to care for those who cannot speak or care for themselves. Whether it’s an unwanted German Shepherd or a tabby whose guardian has passed away -- no matter what the reason -- we take them. And, we will continue to do so, until we educate every person in our community that spaying and neutering animals is the only humane thing to do, that owning a pet is a commitment for the lifetime of the pet, and that abuse or neglect is unconscionable and illegal. And, we will try to match every adoptable pet with a loving home. Each and every day.

    All programs run by the Humane Society are supported by people like you. Click here to find out the ways you can help.


    NYS Shelter Registration# RR235

    Heart of the Catskills Humane Society Bylaws can be found here.

    HCHS Form 990 can be obtained by a written, phoned or in-person request at the shelter.