BY KIM REEDER
CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBSERVER
LEE COUNTY ––
As I look over how many intakes we have encountered at the Lee County Humane Society (LCHS), just in this past week, I find myself wondering, “How can I help? What can I do? What will ignite a ‘difference maker?’” The recurring answer for me is simply, “I don’t know.” My heart wants to save and rescue every single animal. My magical, endless bank account wants to build massive shelters everywhere –– shelters with a well-paid staff, high-end amenities, industrial washers and dryers and grassy knolls. This magical dream is pursued by each and every volunteer and staff member at LCHS. The passion and hope for this animal shelter utopia is what each and every one of us strives to achieve. If you have the wonderful opportunity to talk and listen to an animal shelter employee and/or volunteer, you will find that our hearts work day in and day out in the hopes to build this magical place.
Sounds amazing, right? Of course it does. However, our minds at LCHS are aware that our dream of saving all animals, having state-of-the-art technology and most importantly, space to provide a safe and loving home for our animal friends simply isn’t realistic. Our animal shelter utopia is just a pipe dream. This knowledge of it being just a dream doesn’t stop our drive and passion from trying to make it happen. It doesn’t stop our volunteers from working tirelessly to make it happen. So back to the questions at hand: “How can I help? What can I do? How can I be a difference maker?”
ADOPT. RESCUE. FOSTER. TRANSPORT. SPONSOR. DONATE. VOLUNTEER. EDUCATE. CARE.
In hopes to bring a focus to an immediate need for how you can help, I would like to reintroduce our Shelter Jewels Program, our “Diamonds In The Ruff.” This elite group of animal friends has taken up residency at LCHS for quite a long while. They have been with us the longest. Think of a teenager stuck in foster care their entire life, the child that’s never known a forever home, one that is too old for that family to adopt, the anxious couple’s missing piece of their family, yet they feel that “this isn’t the one.” The one that is overlooked with thoughts of them being too much of an undertaking, too risky, too hard, too mature or too grown. Just like this aged-out teenager longing for family dinners and game nights, our “Diamonds” have similar longings. They long for a family, a yard, belly rubs and ear scratches. They long to provide the best “welcome home” each and every time you leave the house. This is their utopia. This is their dream — a dream that isn’t “far-fetched.” You could be their forever family. If forever isn’t an option for you, becoming a foster just might be.
Having a prolonged residency in a shelter does come with some speed bumps. With patience and time, our Diamonds In The Ruff will love you with such gratitude, you’ll wish you would have rescued them earlier. If you are familiar with how a diamond is formed, you will understand our special gems, our “Diamonds.”
The formation of a diamond takes patience, pressure (stress/strain), a fiery temperature and time. It requires all of these things and then some for these carbon atoms to even begin to become a gem, a diamond. Same applies to our Diamonds. It will take patience, time, pressure (stress/strain) and a fiery soul, but wow, in time, what a gem. A Shelter Jewel.
With any precious jewel, special care is required and recommended. You wouldn’t ordinarily give a 3-year-old a 3-carat diamond to play with…and neither will we. You wouldn’t choose a pipe cleaner for your ring setting with that same 3-carat diamond. If LCHS was a jeweler (we kind of are) we certainly wouldn’t insure your pipe cleaner setting. In LCHS terms, we make sure our 3-carat diamond will have a perfect setting, one fitting for such a gem. We take tremendous pride along with tremendous love and care for our Diamonds, and we don’t want their integrity compromised. To ensure quality and longevity of our Diamonds, we provide training, toys, wire crates, blankets, food, bowls, medicine (if needed) and a free photo session with our media specialist. There is also a virtual, four-week training session via GoodPup when certain LCHS Shelter Pets are adopted.
Puppies are beautiful, and they deserve forever homes, but when referencing our Diamonds, puppies are the cubic zirconia. They are cute — their own diamonds in the making — but they aren’t Diamonds. Some people are the family heirloom types — “Shelter Jewels” people — while others are the new, bright and shiny like diamond people: puppy people. And then there are so many of us all that fall in between. That’s the great thing about it. Just like diamonds, we are all unique, and none of us are the exact same. It is what gets us closer and closer to that inner animal shelter utopia. It is what helps us rescue, adopt and foster our animal friends. Simply magnificent. If you are unable to adopt, rescue or foster, please remember you can volunteer, transport, donate, sponsor, educate and most importantly, care.
Are you ready to meet our “Diamonds In The Ruff”? Visit us at leecountyhumane.org to find out more.