Happy New Year!
In many ways, the beginning of the year is my absolute favorite time of the year. Not because of the cold, or the ice, or the flu outbreaks … but because it’s the time to take a look at the past year and see what we’ve achieved. And WOW! Some amazing things were achieved in 2017.
2017 was, in short, a record-breaking, live-saving, tail-wagging great year!
- 3,147 animals like Wahoo, pictured above, found new homes — the most ever in our history!
- 1,023 pets were rescued from shelters lacking the resources and space to save their lives, and from emergency and disaster relief situations throughout the country.
- 742 underage puppies and kittens received lifesaving care from foster families.
- 706 animals — 64% of lost dogs and 26% of lost cats — were reunited with their families!
- Homeless pets were in our shelter for an average of 12.6 days before finding a home — that’s a huge decrease from 27 days in 2014!
I am so grateful and amazed by the support we receive from our community. Without the generosity of friends like you, we wouldn’t be able to provide lifesaving care to the thousands of animals we served last year, and the thousands who will need us this year, too.
The cornerstone of the Lawrence Humane Society is the people who make it happen. 365 days a year, our staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing care, rehabilitation, and love to the pets who end up at our shelter through no fault of their own. We don’t have snow days — our shelter residents need us every single day!
I’m so proud of some of the new initiatives we launched in 2017 to help ensure that the pets in our care have the best possible experience while waiting to go home thanks, in part, to our friends at the Petco Foundation, and the generosity of friends like you.
Did you know that our canine residents are assessed and matched into playgroups? Starting at 7am several days a week, our behavior team and volunteers give our shelter dogs time outside the kennel to burn off steam with their canine friends — dogs are social creatures and they blossom when given the opportunity to spend time outdoors with each other. And when they’re inside, we provide multiple in-kennel enrichment tools daily so that they always have something to do. Our feline friends receive lots of snuggle time and toys while they’re waiting to find new forever homes, too. We believe that it is our duty to provide not just basic care, but the best possible environment that we can for the pets we shelter.
Helping People, Too
Over the last year, we’ve been focusing on how to better serve the people and pets in our community.
One focus has been our Project HELP program, funded in part by the ASPCA, which seeks to assist pet owners who are considering surrendering their pets. The most common reasons for surrender are housing issues, cost of care, and behavior issues. Project HELP helps pet owners by providing financial assistance for pet deposits and rent, training classes, and veterinary care. There is nothing worse than watching a family have to surrender a beloved family pet, so we are committed to helping those pets stay in their homes for the long haul. We love keeping pets with their families — and by doing so, keeping our shelter open to help more pets in greater need, such as the pets we rescued from communities affected by Hurricane Irma.
Another program we’ve enhanced is our reclaim and lost pet program. Our Pet Resource Center has made remarkable strides with helping lost pets find their way home. Nationally, a lost pet at a shelter has a 25% rate of return for dogs and a 3% rate of return for cats. Our team works tirelessly to reunite pets with their people —and last year we achieved a 64% and 26% return rate for dogs and cats, respectively.
Even though we saved thousands of furry friends last year, pet overpopulation and homelessness continue to be prevalent in our community and in the Midwest. We still have work to do, and with your continued support, the future is bright for the at-risk pets in Lawrence and Douglas County.
2018 will be an amazing year for the pets in our community! Not only will we be breaking ground on a new, state-of-the-art facility to provide the best possible care to our community’s homeless pets, we will be implementing even more programs to help rehabilitate and treat behavior and medical cases and, ultimately, save more lives.
I hope you join us. In the spirit of celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. earlier this week, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or an animal is at stake.”
Kate Meghji is the Executive Director for the Lawrence Humane Society. Most people who know her know that she loves data and loves to use data to drive the Humane Society’s programs and operations to save more lives. She is not kidding when she says that the beginning of the year is her absolute favorite time of year.