We asked our Animal Program Directors, Deidre and Amy, to reflect on the last year. We wanted to know what happened that was important to them, changed their perspectives, or just what made it hard. Here’s their responses:
“This year presented many achievements as well as many challenges. In rescue I’ve learned every year is different. We experienced more adoptions over the past few years as covid left more people at home and looking for companionship. However, as the world returned to “normal” and people went back to their original routines, we saw more returns as well. In fact, as much as we’d prepared adopters to avoid exactly this, we’ve seen a lot of returns. This has been difficult, because a return can feel like failure.
Our goal is to adopt animals out into forever homes, but instead this year we had 64 cats who we thought we had found that for, only for them to find their way back into our care. Although this may not feel like a success in rescue, in many ways, it is. It is important that we work for an organization that stands by their animals for life. If we aren’t there to welcome adopted cats back when it’s not working out, what would their outcome be? For an overwhelmed rescue world, it could mean euthanasia at another facility, being let outside to fend for themselves, or being given away to those who don’t have good intentions.
We always try to ensure lifelong adoptions, but sometimes things change, and the cats need a safe place to land, no strings attached. That’s LCHS.On top of all of the returns, we were hit especially hard over the summer. During kitten season, our busiest time of year, we were faced with a ringworm outbreak. Staff and volunteers worked hard daily to medicate, feed, clean, and care for 14 cats with ringworm. We followed strict isolation protocols for 6 weeks until every single one of these cats was cleared and returned to the general population.
Again, while this also may not look like a success, many shelters euthanize for this treatable – but highly contagious – fungal infection. Ringworm can be time consuming to treat on top of filling up valuable space for cats. The fact that LCHS (a staff of 5) takes this on without protest, no matter how full their plates may be, also makes me proud. The willingness to work harder to save lives is always here. Although we didn’t take in as many new-to-LCHS cats this year, between the returns and new cats, we saved many that otherwise would have been forgotten. I’m so proud to work for this organization, with this staff, and to have the support of our donors, fosters, and volunteers!”
“Having been in rescue for more than 25 years, and here at LCHS since 2008, I’ve learned that each year of rescue brings its own challenges, stresses, wins, and losses. Despite having 25 years under my belt, each year I learn several lessons that I take with me to the following year. Believe it or not – it’s usually a single particular dog that teaches me my greatest lesson of the year. This year there were several different dogs, teaching lessons that I had learned before, some on several occasions, but I’ve found these lessons are easy to forget during hard times. This year was filled with hard times, but these three dogs helped me push through.
Turk was a black and white average looking bulldog in Gadsden County Animal Control. I did not go there that day to pull Turk into the LCHS Dog Program. I had a plan, and he was not in it. Every time I walked past his kennel, his face just called to me for some reason. He was a large dog, so right off the bat I knew that not only was this not part of the plan, but finding a foster for him was going to be difficult. I didn’t have anything ready, but something about him just said “Please take me with you” and so I did.
His head remained cocked to the side, most likely an ear infection but it could have been something serious. We took him to one of our vet partners and I held my breath, waiting to see if I had really dug myself a deep hole here, or if he had an ear infection. Luckily, he did indeed have an ear infection that was quickly and easily treated. From there, we found a wonderful foster for him to stay in until the infection was gone. Turk’s foster family fell madly in love with him and they decided to give him a permanent home and adopt him.
Lesson: When necessary, listen to your heart and figure the rest out later.
Bossy was an English Bulldog that I was asked to transfer from the Tallahassee Animal Service Center because he needed a life saving surgery and he arrived there on a Friday afternoon. Of course, I wanted to save his life, and let’s face it – English Bulldogs are easily adoptable… usually! I thought he would have this surgery, recover, and get adopted. Easy, quick, happy. NOPE!
Bossy was adopted two times, returned both times, and he went through several fosters. He had some behavioral issues that needed to be figured out and fixed. We contacted a trainer for advice, I fostered him in my home to get his initial training underway, and after several months and some behavioral modifications he finally found his person.
Lesson: You just never know. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Last but not least is Kimmer. Kimmer came from Jefferson County Animal Control. Kimmer and his brother were basically feral when we got them. Usually my house is a good foster home for the scared or difficult dogs; and I have no problems welcoming foster dogs into my busy house. I will admit I can be a control freak – I don’t give up easily, and I tend to think the best person to dive into the problem is myself. At a certain point, I had to admit my house had become too much – too busy, too hectic – and I had to let go of that control and see how Kimmer would do in a quieter foster home. He is now flourishing in the right home!
Lesson: Remember that it always, always, always, has to be 100% about what is best for the dog!
The thing that is most amazing and that I appreciate the most about LCHS as an organization is that we always do what’s best for the animals. We get to advocate for those unable to do so themselves, and we commit to giving them what they need. With the support of our fearless leader: Lisa Glunt, Executive Director, along with the support of our generous community – I feel ready.
Bring it on 2023!”