The Lawrence Humane Society will implement an all-staff approach Saturday as it strives to match at least 200 cats and dogs with loving families.
It’s part of a nationwide effort known as Clear the Shelter Day that began eight years ago. Potential adopters are expected to line up early Saturday in hopes of adopting a new furry friend.
After two years of adaptations due to COVID-19 restrictions, shelter leaders have put a lot of thought into this year’s process, said Elina Alterman, director of development and communications at LHS.
“It gets better every time you do it,” she said. “So we hope folks will be patient with us as we make this work.”
Attendees will be admitted in waves in order to manage indoor space. A key part of organization, Alterman said, involves matching staff members with responsibilities that best suit their talents. And volunteers. Lots of volunteers.
The shelter relies on foster volunteers to deliver more adoptable animals. They also evaluate an animal’s character and likelihood to mesh in a home with children and other pets. That’s essential because clearing the shelter involves a faster-paced adoption process than a typical shelter day.
“We make sure that everyone is adoption-ready,” Alterman said. “Everyone’s neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, ready to go. And we just have just these waves of foster drop-offs throughout the day.”
Skilled adoption counselors also will ask questions about attendees’ lifestyles and personalities to facilitate matches. Alterman said COVID-19 provided an opportunity to improve that vetting process.
“People can obviously come in and meet the animals. We don’t have those same restrictions, but the process of talking with folks, to find them that right match — we have refined and made so much better over the last couple of years.”
Alterman said she had read criticism on social media about Clear the Shelter Day. Mostly from animal lovers with good intentions, she said, they post concerns that the no-fee adoption day could attract potential pet owners who mistreat animals.
“There really is no evidence to support that,” she said, adding the shelter does not see a spike in animal surrenders, abuse or neglect after the event. “A handful of animals” might be returned to LHS, but Alterman said surrender numbers prove no higher than usual.
“When we do see neglect, it’s because something unforeseen has happened. And I mean, that’s the case with all of us. We’re all one bad medical bill away from unfortunate life circumstances. So we really think that income is not an indicator of how much someone can love a pet.”
Alterman said the shelter often sees people put their pets’ welfare before themselves — for example, owners who feed their pets while they go hungry.
“That’s why we have our Crisis Pet Retention Program. That’s why we partner with the agencies, we certainly don’t want anyone to put themselves last above their pets,” she said. “But it just goes to show you how much people do care for their pets. I hope that anyone who is concerned about that will just rest a little easier knowing that’s not something that we see.”
Typical adoption fees at the shelter run $60 for adult cats, $125 for kittens, $150 for adult dogs, and $300 for puppies. Every adopted animal is spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated and dewormed, and microchipped, according to a news release. They also score a collar, leash and a bag of food provided by Hill’s Science Diet.
Staff members are prepared to run Clear the Shelter Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, but they will close earlier if all adoptable animals have left the shelter, 1805 E. 19th St. Visit the Lawrence Humane Society website for more information.
Sponsors of the event are NBCUniversal, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Pawsh Wash, Free State Dental, Warren-McElwain Mortuary, Central National Bank and Stranger Creek Pools Inc.
In past years, between 70 and 200 animals have been adopted on Clear the Shelter Day.
Here’s a peek at some more of the animals who need adopted this year.