We have all seen them; the lonely cat outside with no tags, or the dog on the side of the road that is underweight and hungry.
Some of us will stop and decide that this animal deserves something better, but where does that come from? Something better for these animals starts at the Lakeland Humane Society (LHS).
Nearly 600 animals were helped at the Lakeland Humane Society in 2016. Some were lost pets who got reclaimed by their owners, many were strays needing medical care, and some were unable to be cared for by their previous owners. The one thing that these animals had in common is that they needed help. However, the reality is this help doesn't come free, and space is limited in the current shelter.
“We aren't government funded at all so our funding is from sponsors, fundraisers and individual donations,” said Kyla Hunter, LHS shelter manager. “Our vet bills alone are over $60,000 a year and we have outgrown our current shelter. We have more animals than we can house.”
On Feb. 11, the LHS hosted the annual Dawgs & Diva's gala; this year's theme was Pawprints in the Snow. This is the largest fundraiser for the LHS and helps ensure their annual costs are covered, while continuing to fundraise for a new shelter. Approximately 360 people attended the event and over $50,000 was raised to help the LHS continue to care for those animals who need it most.
“We are so happy with the community support that we get each year,” said Hunter. “We did do things on a much smaller scale this year to cut expenses but it was still a very successful event.”
Some of the most common costs incurred by the LHS are the basic care and feeding of the animals, and of course, the cost to spay and neuter the animals that come in before they are adopted. The LHS continues to hold public awareness campaigns to teach people the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. If this isn't possible, they ask pet owners to consider keeping their animal inside.
The work of the employees and volunteers at the LHS isn't considered just a job, but a labour of love.
“It is a lot of heartfelt work,” said Nicole Mbanefo, head animal care attendant. “These animals really appreciate what we do and we also love seeing the smile on peoples faces when they find their forever animal.”
At the end of the day Hunter attributes the success of the gala to the fact that people love their pets.
“It is something people want to support,” she added.
If you are looking for your forever pet, view the LHS Facebook page or website, www.lakelandhumanesociety.org, for photos of animals currently up for adoption.