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Sweating the Small Stuff

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Sometimes we take for granted the small stuff that causes big problems. Monday morning, July 15, some small wires at Lee County Humane Society overheated and caused a main fuse to explode, leaving the shelter without power for three days and jeopardizing care for the 130 animals onsite. Without hot water or lights, the staff could not clean for the health and safety of our animals. Without refrigeration, medicine and other perishables would deteriorate. The biggest concern was the heat. The heat index hovered around 103 degrees and would not let up the following days. Without air conditioning or air flow the building insulation trapped the heat and the temperature inside the shelter quickly rose to dangerous levels. While this put all the animals at risk, those with health concerns (like those being treated for heart worms) were especially vulnerable.

Staff and volunteers jumped into action and reached out to the community to help first by moving our animals to safety. Finding temporary homes for a handful of animals challenges us everyday but finding homes for 130 animals immediately (including some with health and behavioral concerns) appeared daunting. Volunteers already fostering animals helped by taking on additional furry friends. New folks stepped forward and began fostering that day. Staff took medicine and perishables to their homes to be refrigerated. And when the estimate for the electrical repairs came back with a hefty price tag, an anonymous donor’s generosity took care of the full cost.

The community saved lives this week. To show you the vital role the community plays in the welfare of our animals, let me explain how we are able to fund what we do.

As a non-profit organization LCHS depends on your donations and grants to fund most of our work. Our budget is slim, with about 40% coming from contracts with Opelika and Auburn for state-mandated stray animal care, 60% coming from the generosity of the community and grants. The state requires cities to provide very minimal animal control services...enough so that an animal can be boarded for seven days to give owners a chance to locate and claim their lost four-legged friend. Besides this minimal boarding, our contract with Auburn and Opelika lets us also cover first vaccinations, testing for infectious diseases and heart worms, deworming and flea treatment.

We strive to create a humane community with a progressive approach to animal services and public health. What LCHS provides in partnership with area vets is nonetheless basic compared to best standards in animal services. Alabama ranks toward the bottom of the national list when it comes to such things but, thanks to concerned citizens, vets and area lawmakers, Auburn and Opelika are moving away from an outdated model where service focuses mostly on animal control and less on long-term community animal welfare. While it will take time and money, with community support we can move forward with proactive and sustainable steps to improve animal homelessness and public health overall.

Animals come to us in varying conditions. Some are undernourished, some suffer from untreated injuries or infections, some are pregnant or need emergency medical care. Often animals have a combination of problems. Added medical expenses and boarding past that seven-day stray hold period are not covered by city funds but instead by community donations and grants. Animals stay about 30 days at LCHS, more than four times the period covered by the city contracts.

Our budget is tight on any given day. Throw in an unexpected event like our recent electrical problem and we begin to sweat, in this case literally, about making ends meet. We cannot fulfill our mission to advocate and care for the animals of this community without the support of our citizens. Donating a bag of cat litter or fostering a puppy and talking about it make it possible for us to give voice to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Volunteer and share your experience on social media. Relating your experience will encourage others to foster/adopt/sponsor/donate.

Please know how grateful we are to the community for helping us through this recent crisis. We ask you to continue making it possible to advance humane animal treatment and responsible ownership of companion animals through community education, sheltering, adoption and alleviation of animal suffering.

Here are ways you can continue supporting us and make a big difference:

• Adopt an animal and encourage others to as well. • Share with others how animal adoption has changed your life. • Donate money through our website www.leecountyhumane.org, in person or by mail at 1140 Ware Drive, Auburn AL 36830. • Purchase an item on our wishlist using the Donate tab on our website. • Foster an animal and help save two lives, the one you take into your home temporarily and the one we can take in with the new space. • Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter by calling us or through our website to stay up-to-date on events and needs. • Donate plastic grocery bags, empty pill bottles, old blankets, bedding or towels.• Follow us and comment on our posts on Facebook and Instagram and share our appeal for supplies/donations/fosters. • Volunteer at the shelter or at one of our events. We have volunteer work available for every ability, age and time-commitment level. • When you do your regular shopping use one of our partner apps or websites to help raise money. Kroger Community Rewards, Planet Fundraiser, Amazon Smile, iGive and Giving Assistant donate a percentage of your purchase to us without costing you anything. • If you have a birthday or special event coming up, ask friends to donate to LCHS in your honor (or send us supplies from our wishlist) instead of buying you a gift.

Because the community rallied in our recent crisis, LCHS got back to the business of saving and changing lives, one animal at a time. We couldn’t do it without every person who steps forward to help. Thank you!

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Auburn, AL | lchs1140@leecountyhumane.org | 334-821-3222

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