Lawrence Humane Society aims to keep animals away from shelters with resources for pet owners – The Lawrence Times

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Plus: check out the winners of the Cutest Crowler contest; The Paw Valley Challenge starts on Sunday

In March, the Lawrence Humane Society provided 172 pets with free, low-cost vaccines, distributed 5,000 pounds of pet food and donated 800 pounds of kitty litter. None of this was used within the walls of the animal shelter.

These services are part of a move to focus less on bringing animals in need into the shelter, and instead on providing support for people struggling to keep their own pets at home.

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“We believe the best way to help animals is to help people,” said Elina Alterman, director of development and communications for LHS. “It’s the landlords who pay the rent, buy the groceries and pay the bills. Many people love their pets, but they need help.

LHS Director Shannon Wells said shelters are currently going through a “period of rebirth” redefining how shelters can use their resources most efficiently and with the best outcomes for animals.

Those calling LHS today are not immediately notified of the release of the animals. Resources are first offered to them based on the specific situation they are facing. Someone who has found a lost animal, for example, is guided through social media and websites that often quickly reunite animals with their owners. Someone with a misbehaving pet could receive advice or a training plan from behavior experts to overcome these obstacles.

Struggling owners, a common theme since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are being supported with resources to keep their pets at home rather than returning the family pet to the shelter.

“We don’t want someone who is already struggling to layer trauma on trauma into having to give up on their mate,” Alterman said.

Originally a social worker by trade, Alterman sees Human Society as another social service organization in the community. To ensure the safety of pets, the priority must be to ensure the safety of pet owners.

One of his first projects was overseeing the management of the LHS Pet Resource Center, which provides information for pet owners, including low-cost neutering and neutering services, microchipping and vaccinations; a program to trap, sterilize, vaccinate and return feral cats to their colonies; and information to law enforcement and concerned citizens to report neglect and abuse.

The resource center also provides information about the Crisis Pet Retention Fund, which provides support including veterinary services, rent and deposits for pets, food and supplies, and help finding support services. additional.

“Just because a homeowner is struggling doesn’t mean they can’t provide a loving home,” Wells said. “Helping with supplies seems like a better solution to us than uprooting pets from a loving family.”

In March, as part of National Pet Vaccination Month, LHS increased its standard monthly vaccination services from one clinic to four – providing free vaccinations to pets belonging to members of social service organizations. participants.

Clinics serving clients of Just Food, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and the Douglas County Senior Resource Center provided vaccines to 140 pets from 83 households. The last clinic of the month was unaffiliated, leaving it open to community members who had made appointments through the LHS. The unaffiliated clinic vaccinated 32 pets from 19 households.

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Monthly clinics continue year-round and alternate weekdays and hours of operation to accommodate a variety of schedules. Monthly clinics offer vaccines and microchipping at reduced costs, but pet owners who cannot afford the services will not be turned away.

“We are intentional,” Alterman said. “We encourage people to have a relationship with a private vet who can monitor their pet over time, but we’re here to provide basic essential care when needed.”

Make it happen

The program’s major sponsors, including Hills Pet Nutrition and Petco Love, the philanthropic arm of the Petco Corporation, provide support for the shelter itself as well as programs that keep pets in their homes, but the communities of Lawrence and county of Douglas are essential for LHS to maintain funding. and support.

In April, LHS partnered with the Lawrence Beer Company, 826 Pennsylvania St., to identify Douglas County’s cutest dog and cat and feature their likeness on the brewery’s 32-ounce “crowlers” or canned beer to go.

The contest, which ended on April 15, crowned Ernie and Ghostopher as the winners. Their furry faces are set to appear on cans in June. The month-long contest raised nearly $23,000.

Ghostopher and Ernie, the winning cats and dogs in the Lawrence Humane Society’s 2022 Cutest Crowler contest in partnership with the Lawrence Beer Co. (Lawrence Humane Society/Photos Provided)

Starting Sunday, May 1, the LHS is launching a competition called the Paw Valley Challenge. Originally a one-day fundraiser known as Paw Valley Festival and 5K, organizers revamped the event in 2020 to eliminate large crowds and expand accessibility for people of all ages and abilities.

The $40 registration fee provides each participant with a t-shirt and access to an online tracking service. Although attendance is not limited to local supporters, LHS will map out routes around the city to encourage exploration. Enrollments can be individual or team-based, and participants can take workouts indoors on treadmills and stationary bikes, or head outside to walk, run, roll, stroll or bike.

About 500 people attended the 2021 event. Organizers hope to see even more people this year. Registration will remain open until May 9.

For those unable to participate in the Paw Valley Challenge, LHS welcomes a variety of support. Donations of cat food and litter are always accepted, and financial support can be used for operations. Those with more time are encouraged to consider fostering animals.

“We so appreciate the community support we get,” Alterman said. “We hear about shelters across the country that don’t have that kind of support. We are so lucky to have him.

For more information or to register for the event, go to Paw Valley Challenge Website. Information on the support services provided by the LHS is available on the Pet Resource Center website.

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Andrea Albright (she/her), journalist, can be contacted at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more about his work for The Times here. Check out his staff biography here.

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