The Lee County Humane Society is reaching out to the public for help with an overcrowding crisis they’ve been battling for months.
The facility, which is over capacity for dogs 40 lbs or heavier, continues to search for people who can either foster large dogs or adopt them to provide “a forever home.” As of Thursday, they have 65 large dogs on premises and 57 large dog kennels. There are also about 100 dogs being fostered.
“Every little safe place we can put them, we’re putting them,” said T.J. McCullough, the shelter director. “We have dogs in offices, portable kennels, one behind the front desk… We’re trying to get every little spot we can use to save as many as possible at this point, but we are at our max.”
The Humane Society has launched a special promotion to help offset the overcrowding issue. All dogs that weigh 40 lbs and heavier are now free to adopt. There is a $50 fee to cover spaying/neutering for dogs who still need to be fixed.
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“If we have adoptions that can go into forever homes, then that will save not just that one animal. It saves a second animal that’s going to go in its place,” McCullough said.
The animal shelter is at a crisis point due to amount of large dogs in their care. McCullough said they will have to start “making decisions” soon about euthanizing some of the dogs if space doesn’t open up. She said it’s not humane for the animals to live in an overcrowded shelter.
“We have been successful with keeping what’s considered the low no-kill rate as far as euthanasia goes, which means 10% or less,” McCullough said. “This month is going to probably not be at that status. Unfortunately, because of our large dog intake that we’re having, we just don’t have enough room.”
The staff is currently overworked from having to take care of so many animals. During winter months, the shelter typically has fewer intakes. During summer, they typically have more dogs. This year, they have remained at capacity even during what would normally be slow months. McCullough said they haven’t had a break since last summer.
The Humane Society is currently looking for people willing to foster the dogs, even if it’s only for two nights. Even with the amount of dogs currently being fostered right now, it still isn’t enough. McCullough stressed the value of available fosters to take in large dogs.
“That two nights might even save a life,” she said. “If I can get this one out, that can temporarily hold a spot for another one that either is maybe waiting on a vet appointment, has an owner coming to claim it, or we have an adoption appointment and it’s about to walk out that door.”
Animals in Need
Noir, Tootsie Roll, and Eros are just three dogs McCullough mentioned who are looking for a forever home.
Noir has been with the Lee County Humane Society the longest. They took her in on March 25, 2022. She has a foster family, but she is staying in the shelter’s administrative office temporarily while they are out of town. Noir is a 4-year-old mixed breed and weighs 61 lbs. She has been spayed and treated for heartworms.
“She’s definitely got the heartstrings of our staff,” McCullough said. “She’s doing great now with her foster parents. Paws crossed. We’ve been working on them for quite some time, so hopefully they will make that decision [to adopt] when they come back. They’ve given us very good indication. But if not, she’s still actually available for adoption.”
Tootsie Roll has been at the shelter since Nov 7, 2022. He is a two year old mixed breed and weighs 51 lbs. He has been neutered, treated for heart worms and is up for adoption. McCullough said he is selective with other dogs and doesn’t like cats.
“He’s one of our longer term, but he’s doing really well with his training,” McCullough said. “He’s sitting on command and staying until he has permission to leave.”
Eros was taken into the shelter just this past April. He is a 1-year-old mixed breed and weighs 51 lbs. He has been neutered, he’s up for adoption. McCullough said he is dog friendly and likes to play. He still needs some help with his leash skills.
“He’s pretty calm for the most part, McCullough said. “He just wants someone to love on him. He would probably be a couch potato for somebody. He’s a sweetheart.”
Anyone interested in adopting, fostering, volunteering or donating to the Lee County Humane Society can visit https://www.leecountyhumane.org/.