Home for the Holidays
While LCHS employees strive every day to care for animals at the shelter, including on Christmas Day, a happy, comfy home is the best place for companion animals, as Foster Coordinator Bailey Ray said. "If we could have every single pet in a home, that would mean that we wouldn't have to come in on Christmas," Ray said. "There would be no pets to take care of, and that would be amazing." By going into forever homes, former shelter pets can thrive and experience the love and friendship that all cats and dogs deserve.
LCHS introduced The Home for the Holidays Adoption Special to do just that: find forever homes for shelter animals. Until Christmas Eve, the cost to adopt is $25 for altered pets and $75 for unaltered animals. Mellow Mushroom assisted LCHS in this mission even further by sponsoring all adoptions that happened between December 13th and December 15th.
LCHS Programs Assistant Kaitlyn Newell expressed the gratitude felt by everyone at the humane society in a Facebook post. "That is such a blessing to us as we were able to make room for incoming animals, and we got to watch some of our favorites find homes!" Newell said. "The kindness of this community never ceases to astound me time after time."
Save Lives by Adopting
LCHS asks that future pet owners adopt rather than buying from a breeder or pet shop. Shelter director T.J. McCullough said that the reason that animal rescue advocates stress the "Adopt, don't shop" position is that it’s lifesaving. "For every pet adopted, two lives are saved because the adopted animal finds their forever home, and a spot opens for a new pet who the shelter can save," McCullough said.
The holidays can be the perfect time to adopt a new furry friend. Many people have vacation time from work, which can help to ease the transition of introducing a new furry friend. Children are home from school, which enables them to participate in the joyous occasion.
The many adoption success stories show the joy that results when adopters see their new pet begin to thrive in a home environment. As the owners of former LCHS resident Flora (renamed Willow) said, "She was so shy and calm the few times we met her before adopting her, but I assure you that Flora is definitely not the same as Willow whom we have now." Willow's owner went on to say, "We like to think that we needed her zaniness and antics as much as she needed us to love her and show her what a home can be."
One of the LCHS adopters from 2016 who took home a kitten named Gwaine gave LCHS an update earlier this year. "He knows tricks, walks on a leash, comes on road trips, frequently visits friends' houses, and not only tolerates it but enjoys it," Gwaine's adopter said. "From stealing cacti to helping me take pictures at horse shows, Gwaine makes sure that life is nothing short of a grand adventure!"
Pet Overpopulation and the Need for Forever Homes
LCHS's efforts go toward changing the reality that not all pets find their forever home by the holidays. Millions spend Christmas in shelters, waiting for their forever family, in large part due to overpopulation that is brought on by overbreeding and unspayed pets. By spaying and neutering all LCHS pets and offering low-cost spay and neuter, LCHS works to decrease the number of homeless animals.
In addition to helping pets to go home for the holidays, LCHS staff also strives to ensure that holiday adoptions result in forever homes for the adopted animals. When asked about the number one tip for adopters, LCHS Kennel Manager Breanna Herbert and a few other LCHS staff members said that the "Rule of Threes" for adopted dogs is great advice. The statement on adopted dogs, which wasn't invented by LCHS but has become ubiquitous on social media, advises that "ADOPTED DOGS take three days to decompress. Three weeks to start and know your routine. Three months to start and feel at home. GIVE THEM THAT CHANCE."
When the whole family comes together as a team to train and care for the new animal, the transition is smoother, with children completing simple, manageable tasks appropriate to their age and with adult supervision.
LCHS depends on the support of local communities to continue providing the best care to homeless animals of Auburn and Opelika, as well as to help them to find their forever homes.
There are many ways to help other than adopting. LCHS Foster Coordinator Bailey Ray said, "I'd also say that if you're not ready to make that commitment by the holidays, maybe you could try holiday fostering. It's just as good because you're still helping a pet find a home, even for a temporary time, but you're not making that commitment and then breaking that commitment. "
For those who can't bring an animal into their home at this time but want to make a difference, McCullough said that there are many ways to help, including sponsoring adoptions and helping to cover spay/neuter costs for a neighbor. The LCHS board of directors, staff, fosters, volunteers, adopters, and donors help to promote responsible pet ownership and the pro-adoption mindset that can overcome pet overpopulation and help all pets to be in forever homes for this and future holiday seasons.