Independent Cat Society celebrates 35 years

Written by Dorothy Ripperdan. Posted in Featured

Published on March 27, 2012 with No Comments

This year, the Independent Cat Society (ICS) is celebrating its 35th year of operation as a not-for-profit, no-kill cat shelter.  ICS was started in 1977 by several cat lovers in Beverly Shores who wanted to form a society which would be dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused cats, to give these cats the best affordable medical care and to house them in a cageless, no-kill shelter until they could be adopted into good homes. 

In March, 1977 the Independent Cat Society, Inc. was chartered in the state of Indiana. The name “Independent Cat Society” was chosen to indicate that this organization was not affiliated with any other local humane society or animal shelter.

During 1977 and 1978, all of our rescued cats were kept, cared, and adopted out of foster homes.  The ICS opened its first shelter in June of 1979 at Harrison and Maple streets in Michigan City in a small leased space with two rooms and housing about 35 cats and kittens.  This shelter was operated by volunteer help and with intensive fundraising and growing membership dues and donations.

In June 1979, a fire destroyed the building that housed the ICS. Luckily a member of an ICS family who lived nearby helped the fire personnel, rescuing all but two of the cats. The rescued cats were then temporarily housed in a garage while word went out that foster homes were needed.

Late that same summer, the ICS leased an old cabin-type motel on the outskirts of Michigan City. Volunteers helped to repair and renovate these buildings. Thankfully during this time, our membership grew and donations poured in due to the national media coverage. The motel buildings soon housed over 100 cats.

In December 1980, the ICS did not renew its lease and moved its operation to the top floor of the historic Pullman building. Once again, a crew of hardworking volunteers spent many hours converting this space into cat quarters. 

As before, the shelter still depended on dues, donations, and fundraising. The ICS held two open houses a year, one in the spring and another in fall. With the help of local veterinarians, a cat care committee was formed to maintain the health of the cats and kittens

When the Pullman building was sold and with only a month’s notice, the ICS had to relocate again. The heat was turn off in the building in October and a call went out via the local media for heaters and blankets.  The shelter was inundated with warm blankets and space heaters by concerned animal lovers.

In November of 1986, the ICS learned of some property available in Pines Township. Plans were made to remodel a large pole barn building but zoning permits were not granted.  In April 1987, the cats were once again placed in foster homes and in a large building located behind Arbor View Animal Hospital in Valparaiso.  This location was to serve as a temporary shelter as a search began for more permanent quarters.

In 1989, the property on which the shelter is now located was found.   Zoning was approved, the property was purchased and construction began on a pole barn.  The finishing touches on the interior were completed and the cats moved in during the spring of 1991.

Many changes have taken place since then.  While the ICS continues to operate primarily by volunteers, part-time employees were hired to clean the shelter and to medicate and feed the cats.  Financial support for the operation for the shelter and the care of the cats continues to be derived from dues, donations, pledges, fundraising and bequests

In 1996, we began applying and receiving a few grants.  The ICS now holds many yearly fundraisers and attends other events to not only to educate the public about humane care and treatment of their pets but also to help us support our shelter.

The Sponsor-A-Cat program was also started. The ICS continues to grow as do the number of cats and kittens we care for.  With the continued support of its members, contributors, and the dedication of its volunteers, the ICS continues to strive for the best care it can give the cats and kittens that come to the shelter and to adopt them out into responsible caring families.

The ICS has added several programs to the ICS agenda since 1996, such as TNR (Trap Neuter and Release). Volunteers trap unaltered cats, then neuter and release them back into their natural environment. The TNR squad is overwhelmed with calls from all over the area to help with the unaltered community cat problems.

We also have a foster parent program at the ICS for some of our ‘special needs’ cats or kittens. These homes can be a permanent foster or a temporary foster home, depending on the situation.

Another program is the Assisted Spay Neuter Voucher program.  Local veterinarians allow us to sell vouchers for pet spaying or neutering at a substantially lower cost.

Room Moms/Parents have also been added to our agenda. These caring volunteers are responsible for one room of cats in our shelter. They come in regularly, keeping a watchful eye over the cats in their particular room and just help the cats feel cared for until they find their forever homes. 

The ICS is an organization of caring and dedicated individuals. We are all there because we share one common goal.  That’s to give these cats the best care possible and to try and find them all their forever homes.

Please help us to continue to do our mission by donating generously to our organization. Come out and visit our shelter located at U.S. Route 6 and County Line Road in Westville and meet our wonderful cats and make one or two your own. For further information, check out our website or contact our shelter 219-785-4936. We thank you for your continued support.


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About Dorothy Ripperdan

Dorothy Ripperdan is the publicity coordinator as well as a volunteer at the Independent Cat Society Inc., located on Route 6 at the Porter/LaPorte County Line Road in Westville. For more information about any of the cats featured in her stories, call the shelter at 219-785-4936.

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