JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — The Cascades Humane Society’s mission has stayed the same since the 1920s: finding forever homes for four-legged friends.

It all began with one woman’s love for animals.

“A woman with the name of Virginia Lavender and she was taking in sick and injured animals,” said Cascades Executive Director Heather Leszczynski. “She was treating them, spayed and neutered, and finding homes for them herself.”

It’s that legacy of love Leszczynski works to continue every day.

“We build bonds with these animals here despite however long they are here,” said Leszczynski. 

And many times, that means providing free medical care for animals while they are waiting for a second chance.

“Whether it’s an exploratory surgery, it’s x-rays, it’s medication,” said Leszczynski.

Like many animal organizations, they saw an uptick in adoptions during the pandemic, but that’s changed.

Now more dogs are coming in than are getting adopted. Leszczynski says they did around 170 fewer adoptions last year.

“With the adoption numbers going down it certainly has not helped our cause in getting animals out the door.”

The center is expected to get another 30 dogs from a high-kill shelter in Texas next week, something they won’t ever do.

Now with more than 100 volunteers, Leszczynski says there’s plenty of love to go around, but nothing beats the moment these animals hear they are going home.

“We love each and every single one of them, so when they find their home and they go it’s so rewarding. It’s so heartfelt,” said Leszczynski.

Bonds they say they carry with them with every animal that stays here.

“They rely on us, but I think we rely on them more than what we can ever understand.”

The non-profit is also working to give low-income families access to help with things like dog food and veterinarian care.

It’s another way they hope it encourages others to welcome friends like these into their homes.