The Humane Society of East Texas

DSC04709Puppy Chow for Thought

We decided to take a trip out to the Humane Society of East Texas (HSOET).  I’ll admit, part of me was dreading it.  I was expecting to see kennel after kennel of sad faces, deplorable conditions, and I was bracing myself for the probability that all the animals I was to fall in love with would have a fast approaching expiration date.  I left the facility with a MUCH different perspective.  Mainly because I learned on our trip that since the beginning of 2008 HSOET has become a no-kill shelter.  More on that later.

DSC04715As we walked into the adoption room entrance, we were greeted by the friendly staff, then Gayle Helms, HSOET Director, came to lead us on a tour of the shelter.  First up was the Cattery.  The Cattery is the cat room, obviously.  I was expecting to see a cold, gray room with wire cages lined up on either side of the wall filled with pitiful faces of sad, lonely cats with eyes pleading to take them home.  What I saw instead was down right shocking.  The cats have what I can only describe as a kitty-cat fantasy play land.  It’s an open room with places for the cats to climb, hide, jump, play, or lay in the sun.  The cats have free roam of the Cattery, and are able to interact with each other as much as they please.  There is room in the Cattery for 25 cats, but there were only about six cats during our visit.

Next, Gayle led us through sort of an over-flow room which houses the small dogs.  Since the dog kennels are at capacity, HSOET did a little creative re-arranging to make room for a few smaller dogs inside.  Past the over-flow room is the main dog kennels.  There are enough kennels to house about 100 dogs.  Each dog has its own bed, and the kennels are all heated.  HSOET employees do a great job keeping the kennels clean, and all the dogs seemed so happy.  Each animal has a name, and is treated with loving affection by the staff members.  Though the goal is to find loving, forever homes for these dogs and cats, Gayle admits that it’s impossible not to form connections with the animals, especially those who stay for awhile.

DSC04721Revenue for the shelter comes from adoption fees, surrender fees, donations, and Cause for the Paws, HSOET’s annual fundraiser held by Miranda Lambert and her Humane Society adoptee, Delilah.  Adoption fees are $130 for dogs and $115 for cats, and the fee includes spay or neutering and full vaccinations.  The Cause for the Paws event is held annually at Villa Di Felicita, and features great music, wine tasting, delicious food, and live and silent auctions.  The proceeds of the event go directly to the shelter and make up a huge portion of the Humane Society’s revenues.  Last year the fundraiser brought in $120,000!  Gayle says the event is absolutely imperative for operations to continue at the shelter.  Without it they would be forced to close their doors.  Much of the Humane Society’s revenues used to come from city and county animal control contracts, but in early 2008 when the shelter decided, because of ethical reasons, to become a no-kill facility, they were forced to forego the near 40% of their revenue that came from these animal control contracts.  In addition to the revenue lost by the non-renewal of these contracts, it seems our dwindling economy is also making an impact on animal adoptions.  For the month of October, the shelter had 63 adoptions, down from an average of about 100 a month.

DSC04711Though monetary donations are always greatly needed and appreciated, there are other things the shelter needs to run smoothly.  These items include dry adult dog food, dry puppy chow, dry kitten chow, dry laundry detergent, liquid dish soap, bleach, fabric softener, sheets, paper towels, blankets, large bath towels, and dog leashes and collars.  Luckily, local big box retailers Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Target are kind enough to donate all broken bags of dog food and litter to the shelter, but even so, more food is always needed.  Arguably the single most important thing we can donate is our SUPPORT as individuals and as a community.  Please, go take a look at the shelter.   Take a moment to meet the staff and the animals.  It is a far cry from the heartbreaking scenario I was envisioning.  It is a warm, loving shelter that provides either temporary homes, or in some cases forever homes to animals who are not adopted.

DSC04730The Humane Society of East Texas also offers opportunities for volunteers to come out and help.  The first Sunday of every month is volunteer orientation, and volunteers are encouraged to come out and help exercise the dogs and interact with the animals.  One of the cool programs Gayle told us about is Hearts and Harmony, which is a program for at-risk teens to work with at-risk dogs and together they can teach each other valuable lessons in obedience, discipline, and respect.

We would like to say many, many thanks to Gayle and all the others at HSOET for inviting us in and showing us around.  I feel like I learned SO much from visiting the shelter, and I hope I am able to pass on this knowledge to others.  After our visit, I left feeling good knowing there are such wonderful people in Tyler doing such wonderful things for our four-legged Tylerites.

Donations can be made online at

The Humane Society of East Texas
1823 CR 386
Tyler, TX 75708
(903) 597-2471


  1. I would like to say that my experiences with the HSOET have been quite different than the one you described. Although I am an animal lover and support rescues, especially no-kill ones, I would like to NEVER deal with their staff again. Here is my story: I went to the shelter looking for a companion for my Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I came across a female Red Heeler mix that seemed very sweet. Her info sheet claimed that she was “good with dogs, good with cats, unsure if housebroken”. I asked if I could bring my dog in to meet with her before putting her through the stress of relocating, and even offered to bring in his vaccination records. They flat-out refused and insisted that I take her home and give it a try there. I took her home and started the process of introducing a new dog to my very sweet, gentle, Corgi. Through the course of the day I discovered that she was, indeed, housebroken. She also seemed to get along well with my dog, and I thought things were going well. That is, until she ran across the room and viciously attacked my dog, biting his face and head until he screamed. Mind you, this was completely unprovoked. I decided I couldn’t risk his life again, so the decision was made to return her to the shelter. Not only was the staff rude, angry, and vulgar, but they insisted that it was MY dog who was the aggressor, because “she would never do that”. When asked that they please change her info sheet to say that she was not good with other dogs but was housebroken, they refused. Their only response was “just go pick out another one”. Instead, the adoption fee was left as a donation and I vowed never to return there. Instead, I HIGHLY recommend Animal Rescue Fund. They are kind, understanding, and never pushy. The animals at HSOET need homes too, but they should re-think their staffing decisions and attitudes.

  2. Well, MY account was much different than the person before me did. I had adopted a cat from there a couple of years ago, and sadly lost him to feline leukemia last year, there was nothing I could do to save him. I went back there to get another cat last year and when we told them why we were there, they gave a BIG discount to us because they were so sad to hear about what had happened.

    They were very nice and friendly and I hope others have good experiences they can share. What they are doing is a thankless job and should be cut some slack. you don’t bring an animal there for health and safety purposes, that’s just common sense. The SPCA wouldn’t let you do it either. ARF is a great place as well, but the HSOET is a great place to adopt.

  3. The HSOET takes in huge donations and pats itself on the back a lot for being “no kill”, but ask yourself- where do all the animals go that they will not take? Their surrender fee is 80oo- if a good samariton finds a stray animal, how many people could afford to bring in a stray, especially a senior or low income citizen. They refuse many more animals than they take in- letting the other area shelters do the dirty work. If you want to save a life, then go to one of the other area shelters. There will be all the animals that the HSOET turned their backs on.

  4. Yes ask yourself what happens to all the animals that the HSOET refuses. I can tell you they take them to or call Tyler Animal Control. TAC in return takes them to Klein Shelter in Jacksonville, which is a very nice and clean shelter, friendly staff, and not only that but all the kennels on the inside are climate controlled. They have built some new runs outside but they are still very nice and big and roomy. Unlike the HSOET who houses animals in dirt kennels outside. Tell me how do you sterlize dirt? If a dog gets sick thats in one of those outsied kennels at the HSOET what happens to the next dog that is put in there. He gets sick too. You can’t sterlize dirt. If the HSOET is so intent on saving animals why haven’t they done away with the dirt kennels yet. They say they are adopting out alot of animals thats bunk. Guess again the HSOET is just another name for a Hoarding facility.

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  6. Well I had a terrible experience. I had saved a kitten, but had to leave for a week long trip so I decided to give her to the humane society and purchase her when I got back. However, when I got back they refused to give her back because they found that once, years and years ago, I had owned a cat that had died (of old age, mind you) and they couldn’t risk giving a cat to someone had successfully owned a cat for 17 years because the cat died. When my old cat died, I was depressed, and I needed a new one, and the one I found wax perfect. The fact that they didn’t allow me to buy her back threw me into depression and I hate the hsoet very very much. If they didn’t “help” animals then I would have sued. That was 3 years ago, but it haunts me to this day.

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