“The true measure of any society,” Mahatma Gandhi once observed, “can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

This doesn’t just apply to people. After all, few among us are more vulnerable than a stray cat or an abandoned dog. That is why the Nashville Humane Association more than measures up; it sets a nationally recognized bar for state-of-the-art care for animals who need our help, making our city a better place for all, regardless of how many legs we use to walk.  

Founded in 1946, the NHA is an independent nonprofit and not part of any government agency or national organization. To fulfill its mission, the NHA relies entirely on donations from friends and foundations. And there is a lot to be done. In addition to sheltering and caring for animals and finding them their forever homes—the NHA typically places about 4,000 healthy pets a year with loving families—the organization also helps to control dog and cat populations via spaying and neutering as well as educating the public about this issue. One way NHA does this is through its ROVER program, a traveling veterinary clinic that alters the pets of people who could not otherwise afford the procedure. Another way NHA reaches out to the public is with Teddy’s Wagon, a mobile pet unit staffed by teams of certified pet adoption volunteers. This unit also serves as an animal refuge during emergencies. That’s because NHA has a Disaster Response Team, or DART. For example, during the flood of 2010, NHA’s DART played a significant role in saving the lives of cats and dogs so that they could be reunited with their people.

The NHA reaches out to the Davidson County community in other creative ways. For example, NHA staff and volunteers visit assisted-living facilities, bringing the comfort and companionship of animals to seniors without pets of their own. NHA staff also visit schools and civic groups around the county, teaching animal safety, responsible pet ownership and humane treatment for all living creatures. Even the NHA mascots, Rover and Fluffy, are available for parties and events.  

Go see for yourself. The NHA welcomes groups to its clean and modern facility for interactive lessons on pet ownership. Many youth organizations in particular tour the NHA facility to learn about proper care of animals. To adopt an animal, schedule a meet-and-greet through one of NHA’s Pet Service Representatives. Your new best friend might be waiting for you now.    

213 Oceola Ave., Nashville, Tennessee, 615.352.1010, NashvilleHumane.org