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A New Leash on Life

Rethinking Pet Adoption at Lawrence Humane Society

Through the years, the Lawrence Humane Society has evolved beyond just rescuing animals, to rewriting the narrative of pet adoption. When choosing a pet, the romanticized notion of "love at first sight" often comes to mind. However, the shelter challenges this stereotype.

The LHS adoption counselors diligently learn about each family's lifestyle and needs, matching them with animals based on unique behavioral characteristics. This approach is complemented by a comprehensive foster program, which enables the counselors to understand the animals' behaviors more deeply.

"We want to change the general perception of the purpose of an animal shelter," says Executive Director, Shannon Wells. “It's not just about providing a home to animals but ensuring their long-term happiness and stability in their new families.”

This shift in perception involves educating prospective pet owners about the varying needs and personalities of pets. If a family has frequent travel plans or seeks a more independent pet, a cat could be an ideal choice. Dogs, who require more responsibility, are recommended for families with children ready for the added pet-care responsibilities. This shift to focusing on the pet's behavior and the adopting family's lifestyle is already seeing a trend, with more people opting to adopt cats over dogs in recent years.

For those seeking an alternative pet, LHS has handhelds, such as birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. Birds, while less tactile, can still be perfect for families based on their lifestyle, while rabbits and hamsters offer more cuddliness, albeit needing gentler handling.

Embracing a new family pet involves a healthy transition period. Animals often need several weeks or months to adjust to their new living situation. A lot of attention, love, supervision, and positive reinforcement can make this transition smoother.

"When it comes to puppies and kittens, you get the behavior that you teach," Wells emphasizes. “The first fourteen weeks are a critical socialization time to affect life-long behavior.”

The shelter goes the extra mile by offering programs designed to ensure long-term success for adopted pets in their new homes, low-cost spay and neutering, and temporary boarding for people undergoing life's challenges. By shifting the narrative from shelter to educational hub, LHS is changing the pet adoption landscape, one paw print at a time.