Our History

In 2010, a group of volunteers saw a dire need to help unwanted animals in Evansville and beyond. The group, led by Brie Stafford, started working out of Evansville Animal Control to help prevent homeless animals from being euthanized. In the summer of 2010, Brie met Susan Gainey, JD. They both shared a passion for helping reducing the euthanasia rate at kill shelters in the area. Brie and Susan became quick friends and dreamed of forming a no-kill rescue in Evansville. One day, they were having lunch at the McDonald’s on the Westside of Evansville and, while Brie’s young son played, the idea of It Takes A Village was born! The name came from Brie based on the African proverb that It Takes A Village to Raise A Child and Brie and Susan believed that It Takes A Village to Save an Animal! The name was also perfect because Susan had spent time in Africa and Susan’s husband, Patrick Odoyo, was from Kenya. One of Brie’s favorite sayings was, “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” With this mantra in mind, Brie and Susan began working with other volunteers in the creation of It Takes A Village (ITV), and on November 15, 2010, ITV was formally formed.

In the beginning, ITV was a foster-based rescue without a facility. However, at the end of 2011, Susan wrote a $25,000 grant as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project. The submission was selected to compete in a voting contest and ITV supporters rallied to get votes. With a midnight deadline on New Year’s Eve 2011, Susan gathered friends and went out into the community asking everyone they encountered to take out their phones and vote. So, it was truly a community effort and with the help of our Evansville “village,” ITV won the $25,000 prize! The 2011 new year meant Brie and Susan spent the next several months searching for an appropriate building for the ITV Rescue Center. During the search, they met Andrea Will, then co-owner of Stockwell Inn. Andrea had an old storage building next to Stockwell Inn (1417 N. Stockwell Road) that could be converted to a rescue center. It took vision to see what it could be, but with a lot of sweat equity from community members, the old storage building was converted into what it now the ITV Rescue Center. On July 20, 2012 the ITV Rescue Center opened. Operations relied on community volunteers at that time. As the ITV Rescue Center grew, paid staff was hired to accommodate for the growth and take care of the animals at the ITV Rescue Center. Tangila Smith, who was a volunteer and foster, began working as the Executive Director of the ITV Rescue Center. To this day, ITV remains heavily dependent, however, on community volunteers.

Today, ITV averages over 300 animals relying on us to provide them with food, housing, veterinary care and, ultimately, find them a home. ITV was the first no-kill rescue center in Evansville in July 2012. In October 2019, we opened a second location in Spencer County, Indiana. Our live release rate averages 99.96%. ITV rescues animals from government shelters, guardian surrenders and strays.  While we mostly help dogs and cats, we also periodically help other animals such as pigs, geese and small animals. Although we do not discriminate based on breed, size or color, we have a particular interest in helping bully breeds, black dogs, animals with medical needs and other “hard-to-place” animals. Our mission is “to work as one in helping animals irrespective of breed, location or circumstance, while also supporting the people who love animals.” We are a 501(c)(3) rescue.

Since we formed, we have rescued over 10,000 homeless animals and our efforts have been recognized with a Reader’s Choice Award for the “Best Place to Adopt A Pet” for eleven years in a row! We are proud that we did this on a “shoestring” budget, continuing to rely heavily on volunteers to help us. Most of our donations come from individual community members. In 2021, we were voted as “Favorite Nonprofit” by readers of Evansville Living magazine. Most recently, ITV was selected as the Platinum Winner of two Reader’s Choice Awards in 2023. Our community voted ITV as the “Best Place to Adopt A Pet” and “Favorite Non-Profit.” In 2023, Community Votes Evansville also selected ITV as a Bronze Winner for Non-Profit Services.

Further, we have many programs that help the community. For example, we have partnered with local schools to have at-risk students come to our rescue center to help care for dogs and teach them the value of community involvement. We also work with various groups to partner homeless dogs with individuals who need service dogs. Further, we serve as mentors for numerous students completing their school volunteer projects and we participate in several community corrections programs. As funds allow, we help at-risk community pets with medical expenses and other needs to prevent surrenders to shelters. ITV is also at community events regularly promoting our no-kill mission to help homeless animals. Finally, ITV served as one of the founding members of Evansville Partnership for Animal Welfare (EPAW) and Susan volunteered as a Prosecuting Attorney and one of the founding members of the Animal Cruelty Task Force, serving in that capacity for three years.

Who we are…

Tangila Smith – Executive Director
Christeen Campbell – Director of Operations
Tammy Schmitt, JD – Board Chairperson
Terri Melton – Board Vice-Chairperson
Emily Miles – Secretary/Treasurer
Madeline Rueger – Board Member
Andrea Will – Board Member
LeAnn Robertson – Board Member, Volunteer Coordinator
Whitney Lux Tepool – Board Member
Shay Harrington – Board Member

Neal Anderson, JD – Attorney to the Board of Directors
Susan Gainey, JD, LLM, CAWA – Attorney, Co-founder
Patrick Odoyo – DEI Consultant, Co-founder
Brietta Stafford (deceased) – Co-Founder

See more about the ITV Leadership team
See questions about ITV Operations