Kim Reeder: Misconceptions about animal shelters | Columnists

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Human societies have many uphill battles. One of those battles is fighting common misconceptions.

The stigmata of shelters often have a chilling effect on those looking for their new forever family member. At the Lee County Humane Society, along with our other shelters, we work diligently to demystify these stigmas. Today we want to share with you some of these misconceptions and the truth and reality behind them. Here are a few in no particular order.

If a shelter is at capacity, dogs and cats begin to be euthanized.

The truth behind this misconception is quite the opposite. We work with rescues, foster families and other organizations to relocate and rehome any animals we don’t have room for. We have dedicated staff working with outside rescue organizations as well as volunteers and foster families who take these “surplus” animals into their homes.

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These amazing people free up space in our shelter, while socializing, engaging and reducing stress for our furry friends. Rescue organizations near and far work cohesively to give our four-legged friends a chance to live long and loving lives.

» Adult cats and dogs can no longer or will no longer bond or trust humans.

Most of our furry friends crave human companionship and human connection as soon as you come to meet them. Their barking and cat pawing may seem aggressive or that they may be upset, but what most of them say is, “Hey, look at me!” I am perfect. I need care and patience, but no one will love you like me!”

Imagine when a small child is trying to get an adult’s attention when there is an “adult event”. Now, just like children, each of our furry friends is different. Some will need time to decompress in their new accommodation, including with their host family.

Along with many other resources, the Lee County Humane Society will be there to support and guide you along the way.

Animal shelters are depressing.

Although we all know that the shelter is one of the last places our furry friends care to be, however, here at LCHS we offer many activities and enrichment programs that they jump at the chance to to be a part of.

We have playgroups which are supervised by game monitors twice a day. Our volunteer dog walking program allows dogs to spend a “dog day”, where they can have an adventure around town with a licensed dog walker for the whole day.

Books and Barks is a youth reading program held once a month where our young volunteers come and read to the animals for about an hour. You’d be amazed at how they react to our young readers telling them stories.

Cat companions are another way for our furry friends to open up to affection and trust. Our volunteers come to pet, cuddle and play with our feline friends. We provide two rooms for cats that allow them to be playful and express their personality.

Animals are just a number.

This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Every animal that passes through the shelter holds a special place in our hearts. These cats and dogs sometimes even sneak into our souls.

Every animal that comes to the LCHS is given a name. We celebrate each of their accomplishments, like when they learn a new command, behavior, or trick. We celebrate their milestones like when they are adopted.

We tell stories about cats and dogs that we have the pleasure of finding for years after they have disappeared. We welcome them into our homes and sometimes adopt them ourselves. The Lee County Humane Society animals are anything but a number to us. They are our family members, our children and our companions.

While there are so many other misconceptions about animal shelters, these are just a few that we wanted to share with our supportive and loving community.

We hope this sheds some light on the amount of care and compassion the Lee County Humane Society has for every animal, past, present, and future that walks through our doors.

Kim Reeder is the volunteer coordinator for the Lee County Humane Society.

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