WHAT A TREAT! Community Howard kitchen staff make dog treats with leftovers that are then given to the Kokomo Humane Society every week. Executive Director Karen Wolfe gives each of the dogs a treat after taking the sit command on August 12, 2019. 
Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune
WHAT A TREAT! Community Howard kitchen staff make dog treats with leftovers that are then given to the Kokomo Humane Society every week. Executive Director Karen Wolfe gives each of the dogs a treat after taking the sit command on August 12, 2019. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune
Walking through the adoptable dog room in Kokomo Humane Society, the pups were excited to get treats. Some ran through their kennel to the other side to snag another snack as the treats made their rounds through the room.

"You've already had two, but you can have one more," Executive Director Karen Wolfe said to one of the pups.

These treats weren't run-of-the-mill milk bones bought at a store. These treats are made from food scraps and a few other ingredients made by the kitchen staff at Community Howard Regional Health, and donated to the shelter.

Community's Food Service Director Jennifer Yeakle got the idea to make the treats from a magazine, and the kitchen staff started making the treats about two months ago.

"I saw that another hospital in Wisconsin had been doing this and I realized that it would be a great fit," she said. "I went to the staff and pitched this, and they loved the idea."

The treats aren't made from scraps that have sat on patients' trays. They're made from orange peels and melon rinds, the kind of food waste that would otherwise go into the trash, Yeakle said. Being environmentally-conscious is a priority for the hospital, so this project was both good for the environment and fostered community ties.

"The biggest thing is the staff, they make the treats, they drop them off at the Humane Society, they put in the extra word for a really good cause," she said. "This hit home with them because most of them have dogs and cats; they're all animal lovers. This is a way of giving back to the community and helping the environment."

The rind sand peels are ground up with flour until they make a dough that can be shaped into little dog bones that can be cooked. There are many regulations that go into what foods can be fed to animals, so Yeakle went to a chemist at Purdue University to make sure the treats were pup-safe.

For instance, Wolfe said, dogs can't eat raisins, grapes, onions, avocado, garlic and more.

"I'd say 90 to 95% of the dogs love them, there's always the picky ones," she said. "My dogs are picky. They only like chewy treats. Some of the cats like the treats, but the dogs will always go for them."

When Community reached out to the Humane Society, Wolfe was surprised and excited. She said the humane society has many partnerships with community, and this one was particularly touching.

"It's wonderful, it covers so many areas," she said. "They're trying to reduce waste, using foods they would have to throw out and they're also trying to give back. Thinking about the shelter was a great thing; the animals love them and this is extra work for them. It's really nice thing for them to do."

Right now, the shelter is at "cat-pacity," so-to-speak. There are approximately 300 cats in the shelter and in foster care as well as around 70 dogs in the shelter. This Saturday, the shelter is hosting a "Clear The Shelter" event, where all adoption fees are waived.

"We hope that people who come in to adopt will use that extra money to really spoil their new pet," she said. "If you can't afford the adoption fee, we strongly suggest you wait to adopt. You still have to pay to feed, vaccinate, medically treat and take care of your animal."

Since the Humane Society moved to their new facility last year, the volunteer staff has doubled in size. Wolfe said the community support has been overwhelming.

"The community has been super supportive," she said. "If we ask for something, it's there. Whatever we need, if it's bleach, or bedding, or dog treats from Community, we get it. We're so thankful to be well taken care-of."
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