It Takes a Village rescue opens in Spencer County

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Office and Kennel Manager Danielle Thomas of Chrisney walks Saunjai, a dog available for adoption, at the It Takes a Village Animal Rescue in Chrisney on Friday. The no-kill center largely depends on foster homes, volunteers and donations. "Like our name says," Thomas said, "it takes a village and it really does."


CHRISNEY — When you walk into It Takes a Village’s new site in Spencer County, one of the first things you see is a board announcing the location’s recent adoption — a pit bull named Huxley that got adopted even before the no-kill shelter had its grand opening.

Doggy bandannas that are sold as a fundraiser hang along the ceiling as you walk in, and the sitting area is decorated with posters about the love of rescue pets and photos of animals in the care of It Takes a Village. There’s even a dog-themed plug-in air freshener toiling away to make the place smell like Jell-O.

It Takes a Village opened the location in the same space that used to house Spencer County Animal Control before the facility shut down amid accusations and an investigation of animal abuse. While It Takes a Village may be using the same space as animal control did and contracts with Spencer County, one thing is clear: They are not animal control. The challenge, Office and Kennel Manager Danielle Thomas said, is getting the community to realize that.

“We want people to realize we are not who it was before,” Thomas said. “We are not animal control. We care a lot about our animals, and we have a lot of policies in place.”

One of those policies is not taking walk-in animal surrenders. Thomas, who lives in Spencer County, expects that policy to be an adjustment for the community. She’s already gotten calls from people wanting to surrender animals immediately. In those cases, Thomas explains to the caller that they have to email the rescue, which is headquartered in Evansville, at From there, the rescue’s staff will process the request and try to find a foster home for the animal before placing it in a kennel setting. A foster home program places adoptable animals in homes with volunteers instead of kennels while they wait to be adopted.

Office and Kennel Manager Danielle Thomas of Chrisney takes Dillon, a dog available for adoption, for a walk around the building at the It Takes a Village Animal Rescue in Chrisney on Friday.

“We are really big on fosters,” Thomas said.

Foster homes are key to letting It Takes a Village run a no-kill model, Thomas explained. Otherwise, their shelters would fill faster than they could adopt out the animals.

At the Spencer County site, there’s only room for nine dogs and five cats, Thomas said, although she can fit more in the isolation rooms that house new arrivals who are going through vet exams.

Currently, the shelter has two adoptable dogs — Dillon and Saunjai — who were transferred from the Evansville location so animals would be available at the grand opening in Spencer County earlier this month.

Dillon is a 9-month-old doberman and cattle dog mix who doesn’t quite know his own strength. When Thomas takes him outside, he walks her more than she walks him, although she’s working on leash training him as much as she can. He’s not outside long before he gets up on his hind legs and places his paws on Thomas’s shoulders. In the kennel world, that’s a dog hug.

“He loves to hug,” Thomas said.

Office and Kennel Manager Danielle Thomas of Chrisney takes Saunjai, a dog available for adoption, out of her kennel at the It Takes a Village Animal Rescue in Chrisney on Friday.

After about a 10-minute walk, Dillon goes back to his kennel, and it’s Saunjai’s turn. She knows, too, and starts dancing around her kennel as Thomas walks up with the leash. Saunjai is a 3-year-old boxer mix. Although better on a leash than Dillon, she’s clearly ready to go outside. When she gets to the outside door, she jumps up and puts her paws on the push bar. It looks like she’s going to let herself out, but really, just wants to look out the window before Thomas opens the door.

Once outside, Saunjai sniffs around the property. She takes the treat Thomas offers her only to drop it on the ground, sniff a bit, and then come back to her snack. While outside, Thomas shows off Suanjai’s ability to sit on command.

“We try to train them as much as we can, but we have a lot of dogs,” Thomas said of It Takes a Village.

She’s taking advantage of the Spencer County location’s early days to give Dillon and Suanjai extra attention, but she knows her kennels will soon be full. She already has a few dogs in the isolation room waiting to be cleared by a vet to enter the main population. When they do, Thomas will need volunteers to help give the animals the attention they deserve. She’s also looking to build a local network of foster homes and a trap-and-release program to spay and neuter the county’s feral cat population.

More information about volunteering, fostering or adopting can be found at You can also stop by the Spencer County shelter — located at 824 E. CR 800 North, Chrisney — from noon to 5 p.m. CT Tuesday through Saturday.

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