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Humane Society Hosts Open House Sunday | News

This Sunday, the Lee County Humane Society is hosting its first open house from 1-4 p.m. adoption, fostering, volunteering and helping stray animals.

While the Lee County Humane Society may be opening its doors, the hope is that participants will open their hearts to animals looking for a forever home.

Simultaneously, this open house will be an opportunity to refute the negative connotation that some in the community seem to have about the Humane Society.

When Jenny Warren became the Humane Society’s outreach and development coordinator in January, she quickly realized that some in the community viewed the shelter in a negative light, a view Warren desperately wants to change.

“We have this stigma that we euthanize pets that come in when in the last three years we’ve had a 90 percent live release rate,” he said.

Much of this success is due to a recent partnership with the Best Friends Animal Society, an organization that works with shelters across the country to increase the national savings rate for shelter animals. Over the last three years, this association has provided tools and developed programs to reduce the euthanasia of shelter animals. They have also awarded a grant to the Lee County Humane Society to supplement these programs.

This open house will help showcase the impact this partnership has had on the shelter, as well as other things the shelter offers the community.

“My hope is to educate and help the community understand that not only are we doing great things, but there is so much to offer the community,” Warren said. He explained that they also spay and neuter animals for those who qualify, and also use the Best Friends grant to help families struggling to provide for their pets.

In the last year there has been a total admission of 2,323 animals with 1,550 adoptions. A great aspect of the shelter is the foster system. This program is mutually beneficial for both the animals and the foster homes.

With the shelter only accommodating around 150 animals, the help that foster care provides is vital. With nearly 170 foster homes, more animals are saved from euthanasia and people have the opportunity to own a pet without a big commitment.

The Humane Society also uses several other programs intended to increase community interaction and provide permanent homes for pets. One of those programs is the “Lonely Hearts Club,” which is specific to pets that have been in the shelter for more than 100 days. These pets are offered at a reduced adoption fee to attract prospective owners. Just this week, a family adopted a dog that had been there for almost two years.

“We really take pride in pushing adoptions of those pets because no matter how long an animal has been with us, we’re trying to find their forever home,” Warren said.

There are other programs that the Humane Society has had success with. Pets for Patriots helps US military veterans adopt pets, and similarly, Pets for Seniors helps bond pets with senior members. Books and Barks is a program for children ages 6-11 to read to house pets. There are also countless volunteer opportunities for those who can’t commit to adopting or fostering.

A key job of workers is to make sure prospective adopters and foster parents are matched with the animal that best fits their situation.

The Humane Society does many behavioral assessments within play groups and social situations to see what the animals’ personalities are and how they interact with other animals or people. Knowing which animals are good with children, supportive or work well with other pets are characteristics that further help to discover a forever home for pets.

In addition to behavioral evaluations, the staff works to educate the animals and teach them basic commands to prepare them for a home.

Warren explained that all of these preparations are meant to reduce return rates.

“We work hard to make sure the dogs and cats we send to families are something for the long haul,” he said. “It’s not going to be one of those situations where they’re like, ‘Oh, well, this you know, this dog wasn’t good to my cat. We’re going to tell you which animal, which dog is better at living with cats, and the same goes for families of welcome too.”

With this open house, Warren hopes the community will see how much work and effort is put into these animals and correct the inaccurate stigma many have of the shelter. Every dollar and every hour of work makes a difference for these animals.

To sign up for a tour, go to www.leecountyhumane.org. There you can also find information about the various programs, as well as cats and dogs available for adoption or foster care.

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