Humane Society’s Mobile Unit Brings Adoptable Animals on the Road

Writer / Michelle Kaufmann
Photography Provided

When a green bus pulls up to locations across Johnson County, excited humans aren’t on board anticipating a field trip. Instead, Frank and Aggie, two Great Pyrenees dogs, welcome people to the Whiskers on Wheels unit.Whiskers on Wheels

The program allows the Humane Society of Johnson County (HSJC) to travel with adoptable animals to events or places like nursing homes, to help people decompress and smile. Frank and Aggie are the program’s ambassadors and live at the Humane Society permanently.

“They can go from a newborn to a 90-year-old and their temperament is incredible,” said HSJC Executive Director Anne Sutton. “Everyone looks forward to seeing them. When we go to schools I hear kids say, ‘Oh my gosh, the polar bears are here!’ They’ve kind of created a little celebrity following. They can hear the bus starting from their suite. I can open the garage door and they run straight to the bus to get on.”

Sutton got the idea for Whiskers on Wheels after receiving multiple inquiries about participating in offsite events. The Humane Society is a rescue, so she thought about what animals might be available at the time of the event, and also how weather could affect things.

“I thought we needed something that could eliminate some of these barriers,” she said. “I thought back to my childhood and the bookmobile, and it struck me that we need that in animal form – something that we can take places and control the environment a little bit more. I thought if we could do this even for five minutes for someone when they can just pause and forget about whatever’s heavy in life, that would be ideal.”Whiskers on Wheels

The Whiskers on Wheels bus, which has room for dogs and cats, has traveled to corporations, Clark-Pleasant schools, Franklin College’s counseling department and other locations.

During one trip, Sutton and Whiskers on Wheels went to an adult day facility.

“I caught the eyes of one of the nonverbal adults who was sitting on the bus with Frank and Aggie,” she said. “[I saw] the joy that was on his face, and when we locked eyes he smiled so big.  Aggie laid her head on his lap and in that moment, I just knew that what we were doing was the right thing. It brought me to tears. I just knew we need to continue to reach whoever and wherever we can.”

Several animals have been adopted through the program, which also builds awareness about the Humane Society.

“Oftentimes people don’t even realize that there’s a Humane Society in Johnson County, and you don’t know there is one until maybe you need one,” Sutton said. “We have a wealth of resources for people and their animals. Our goal is to help people keep animals in their home instead of having to surrender them.”

The HSJC offers free vaccination clinics throughout the year and a monthly pet food pantry.

Whiskers on Wheels

The Humane Society is working to keep Whiskers on Wheels a free program. For more information or to book a visit, call 317-535-6626 or visit

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