Former educator learns life lessons as president of the Humane Society of McDonough County
After a decades-long career in education, Bonnie Smith-Skripps enjoys learning from the animals she cares for as president of the Humane Society of McDonough County.
“I’ve always loved animals and chose to spend my retirement volunteering at the McDonough County Animal Shelter and in leadership for the Humane Society of McDonough County,” Smith-Skripps, who held numerous roles including dean of the College of Education and Human Services, administrator and English instructor during a 35-year career at Western Illinois University (WIU) in Macomb, told the West Central Reporter. “Animals add so much to a person’s emotional and physical well-being, regardless of their stage in life. I’m amazed at how resilient dogs and cats are, and how their personalities evolve when they are in a nurturing environment where they can trust and gain confidence that they know what is expected of them. They deserve that opportunity. And they give so much back in return.”
Smith-Skripps has been president of the Humane Society of McDonough County for the last five years. She previously served as a member of the organization for several years. She has also been a volunteer at the McDonough County Animal Shelter (MCAS) since 2010.
“The Humane Society is a separate organization from the MCAS, but works with the MCAS, as well as the county board, the city, and the community to better the lives of the animals while at the shelter and to promote adoption,” Smith-Skripps said. “Most animals come into the shelter because of circumstances outside of their control and deserve to find their new forever home. There’s little better than seeing the smiles on the faces of a family or individual taking their new pet home from the shelter and the happy excitement of the dog or cat as they realize they are going to their new home.”
In addition to supporting the shelter, the Humane Society offers a low-cost spay/neuter program, assists animals in need of emergency services at McDonough County veterinary clinics through the Angel Fund and helps pets remain in their homes with their families through the Pet Food Pantry.
“We want to promote responsible ownership of cats and dogs by building awareness of the need to spay and neuter, and the importance of treating a pet as a valued member of the household for its lifetime,” Smith-Skripps said. “We want to assist families or individuals in financial duress to keep their pets with them.”
Smith-Skripps hopes to be able to help more animals in the future with the Humane Society’s recent launch of a fundraising campaign to build a new shelter.
“The current shelter was built in the early 1980s and is feeling its age with infrastructure problems and insufficient space,” she said. “A new animal shelter building will be a great addition to the community and further its care for needy animals. The animals will be housed in a facility that will better guard their health and emotional well-being. The public will have a better environment in which to get acquainted with potential pets and learn more about pet care and training.”
Smith-Skripps was raised on a farm in Warren County and has been a resident of Macomb since 1971. She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English education, and an educational specialist degree in educational administration from WIU. She also holds a PhD in education administration from Southern Illinois University.