Extreme Makeover: Shelter Edition
A Visit with Lee County Domestic Animal Services
As part of our Future Five: Shelter Partners to Save Cats’ Lives program, we recently visited shelter partner Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) in Fort Myers, Fla. to check in and provide training and guidance. We found that the shelter has already made impressive strides in its “makeover” into a model shelter.
After reviewing model shelter policies and presentations by shelter medicine expert Kate Hurley, DVM, Alley Cat Allies’ National Cat Help Desk Manager Brianna Brumbaugh trained key shelter and animal control staff on developing humane programs for cats.
Brumbaugh trained the front desk staff on humane cat deterrents to prepare them to respond to calls and questions. During her stay, she also rode along with the shelter’s lead volunteer responding to calls about community cats and noted how great she was at explaining TNR and working with the public.
The shelter’s director Donna Ward shared her “a-ha” moment that made her realize the shelter system needs to change. Once, she was about to return a cat to her outdoor home as part of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), but decided to take the cat back to the shelter and put her up for adoption because she was friendly. Ward then went out of town, and while she was gone the cat developed an upper respiratory infection and was “euthanized” (i.e. killed). The moral of the story: TNR would have been the better outcome. That’s what the Future Five program is all about: shelters creating positive outcomes for cats.
The shelter has already made some major changes. LCDAS now performs early-age spay/neuter and will be adopting out cats who test positive for FELV or FIV.