By Kate Meghji, Executive Director
Two and a half years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved my family to Lawrence to begin my journey with the Lawrence Humane Society. I was unsure about the many challenges to be faced, but I was certain about one thing: this organization, its staff and volunteers, and its Board of Directors were amazing, committed, and passionate animal welfare advocates.
I couldn’t wait to jump in.
Since then, we have made a lot of changes, had some great successes, and most of all – we have saved a huge number of lives! As we are about to embark on our next great journey as an organization, I’ve been reflecting over the last two and a half years, and the most memorable moments we have achieved, together.
Increasing Our Impact
We ended 2016 with a live release rate of over 88%, compared to 73% in 2008 – that means that 88% of our shelter pets had positive outcomes – including being adopted, being safely reunited with their families, or being transferred to specialized rescues. We also reduced the average length of stay for shelter pets by nearly 50%!
How did we do it? We created medical and behavior programs, simplified our adoption process, and devoted resources to increase the number of lost pets who are reunited with their people.
As a result of some these changes, we were awarded a Lifesaving Impact Award from the Petco Foundation, which has allowed us to increase our capacity by hiring a second veterinarian, a behavior manager, and a foster/rescue manager.
With a veterinarian on site seven days a week to ensure high-quality care for shelter pets, we have increased our medical capacity to include much more than simply spaying and neutering pets. We are able to help injured and ill pets become rehabilitated and find loving new homes.
Our behavior team ensures that every shelter pet receives customized enrichment opportunities multiple times a day, including daily playgroups for the dogs. We have also begun a partnership with a service dog agency to identify shelter dogs who are good candidates. One of our shelter alums is now a bomb-sniffer in Indianapolis!
In the last year alone, we have increased the number of volunteer foster homes from 40 to 160. Now our most vulnerable residents — underage kittens and puppies, pets suffering from upper respiratory infections, and those with minor behavior issues — are placed in loving homes to heal, away from the stressful shelter environment, and come back to us ready to find their new homes.
Many shelters in Kansas — and in the Midwest in general — are limited in capacity and resources. As we began to have successes in rehabilitating animals in our community and adopting them out more quickly, we found that we were able to be a resource to the other shelters. Last year, we took in nearly 600 at-risk pets from overcrowded and limited shelters, so healthy and friendly animals could get a second chance at finding a new home in Lawrence. This includes more than 60 dogs brought to us by the Department of Agriculture, who were relinquished or seized from breeding facilities, and who required extensive rehabilitation.
Now, we are focusing on ways we can impact pets before they ever have to walk in our door. By providing resources and education to pet owners who are struggling, we hope to help keep families together, forever.
As we look to the future of the Lawrence Humane Society, we are all incredibly excited to increase our impact and save even more lives. I am honored to work with some of the best, brightest, and most committed people in our community — and we can’t wait to do even more for the people and pets in our community. I hope you will join us!