By Hannah Lester
The Lee County Humane Society wants to be a place for pet owners to find help — even after they’ve adopted their new, furry family member.
“Our pet owner outreach program is intended as a community outreach program for pet owners to be able to provide needed support, reputable information sources and really just put people in touch with the various resources that are out there, both in our community and also including national resources, grants and anything like that to assist pet owners that are having problems,” said Kelly Daniel, the volunteer coordinator at the Lee County Hu mane Society.
The program was started in November, and Daniel said she wants pet owners to know that the society is ready to help with all kinds of concerns: financial problems, finding homes that accept animals or problems with a pet’s behavior.
“We really just want to get the word out there and be able to help anyone who’s in need or just has any
questions,” she said. “We understand that there is just a plethora of information avail- able on the internet; some of it is much more reputable than other sources of in-formation, and we can help to really narrow that down.”
The program began in November with an email address that people can use to ask questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, people have asked questions about financial concerns and what to do if they need to re-home their pet.
If a pet owner is having financial problems. Daniel said that sometimes the shelter can help provide food for the animal. There are a lot of grants too that pet owners can apply for, she said.
If an owner is concerned that they may not be able to keep their pet, Daniel said they should call the shelter for help first, before considering giving up the animal.
The shelter does not like to see an animal re-homed, Daniel said, so if a pet owner is requesting help with re-homing, the first step is seeing if there are other options.
“We will try to help them find alternatives to that, but if that isn’t possible then we want to help the person find the lowest-anxiety, the lowest-stress, way to re-home both for them and the animal,” she said.
One way to do this is asking friends or family to adopt the pet, Daniel said.
“That’s going to take the animal right from one loving home to another trustworthy home for them and that can give the person re-homing some peace of mind,” she said.
Some people have asked what to do about problems with puppies — the animal chewing on everything, for instance.
Daniel said the shelter can provide training techniques or even point the pet owner toward a trainer who could help.
“Of course, with the more advanced problems, the first thing that we say is get in touch with your vet … really for any of the requests, that is one thing that we emphasize is to always consult your vet. We are pet people, we love animals, but we aren’t certified veterinarians,” she said.
Daniel said the shelter pulls its information from sources like the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Best Friends Animal Society.
“We just want to make sure that everyone is well informed of all their options,” she said.
Daniel said that in the future, she hopes to see the program be able to provide even more resources to pet owners, such as no-cost, or low-cost, training for animals.