There are dog people, and cat people and reptile people. Everyone likes different types of pets. But most people can agree that, no matter how many ‘presents’ they leave on your lawn, or how many hairballs they cough up onto the couch or how many things they chew up, having a pet is a blessing which can make memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Sara Beth Starr, Shelter Manager at the Kansas Humane Society, believes that pets can drastically improve people’s life.
“Speaking as a pet owner, I have two dogs,” said Starr. “They make my life so much better. They know when I need comforting and they are always happy to see me. If I’m having a bad day, I can always count on them to make it better. I believe this is true for most all pet owners, cats and dogs alike.”
Starr gives insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the shelter.
“Days in the shelter are always different,” said Starr. “I myself work primarily in customer service so you deal with a lot of heightened emotions when it comes to people finding their new family member or people in a position that they have to surrender their pets for adoption for a variety of reasons. Working in the shelter environment, no day is the same as the last. You are constantly learning new things about humans and animals. It is very rewarding work, although can also be highly emotional at times.”
Allie Beverly, Adoption Supervisor at KHS, has a similar view to Starr’s.
“It’s pretty busy,” said Beverly. “We never know exactly what we’re going to get into, but everyday is different. So, sometimes the beginning can be kind of slow and then at the end it can get really busy. We do adopt out quite a few dogs and deal with a lot of personalities of animals.”
Beverly describes what goes on when animals first come into the shelter. Every animal that comes into the shelter is microchipped.
“When they first come in, we need to make sure every animal is going to be happy, healthy and friendly, so we have to make sure that they’re going to be able to be handled since we have to deal with a lot of the public and let these people be in a room with them,” said Beverly. “They do have to be spayed and neutered, up to date on vaccines and treatments. The only thing we don’t do right now is the rabies vaccine for dogs and cats, and we don’t do the feline leukemia testing for cats, but we do heartworm testing for dogs that are over six months.”
Beverly gives her opinions on adopting animals versus buying them.
“There’s a lot of animals that end up getting bred and then not taken care of and they end up coming here,” said Beverly. “So I feel like it’s better to adopt them and make sure that they’re spayed and neutered instead of just getting animals and breeding them continuously.”
Starr has about the same opinion.
“Adopting from a shelter is saving a life that wouldn’t have a chance otherwise,” said Starr. “Unfortunately, a lot of pet stores over breed animals so the pets you adopt there can have a lot of health issues. All animals deserve a chance, but it would be best practice if people didn’t breed for profit and we could save more lives.”
But not so fast. According to Beverly, adopting a pet is a big responsibility.
“[The adopter] will have to take it to the vet,” said Beverly. “They should socialize it because if they don’t socialize it things can go not so well. They should also know that nothing is free so everything is going to have to either take time or you’re going to buy something.”
In addition, people might want to think twice before surprising their best friend with a pet.
“People adopting or buying animals for another person isn’t a great idea because you don’t know if someone wants an animal at that time or if they can take care of it,” said Beverly. “Also, you don’t know if they’re going to bond with that animal, so it’s better for them to just come here and pick it up themselves.”
“When getting a pet the potential owner really needs to take time to research what they will need to do to care for the pet and what breeds they may be interested in,” said Starr. “Different breeds can mean drastically different energy levels.”
If people can’t adopt a pet, though, there are lots of other things they can do to help out KHS.
“We have a lot of donations that we can take in,” said Beverly. “People can save their toilet paper rolls and we can turn those into enrichment. They can even do the Dog’s Day Out program which is people coming in and taking a dog out of the shelter for the day even if they can’t take it home forever. They can come take it out if it’s stressed out and help it relieve some stress. People can also come in and go into a room with an animal just to get it away from its routine.”
Shanna Ireland from the Youth Education department has a message about adopting an animal.
“You’re saving two lives,” said Ireland. “You’re saving the life of the animal you come to adopt, and you make space for another animal to come to the shelter.”
Beverly believes in all the animals at the shelter.
“The animals in the shelter are here for a reason,” said Beverly. “They need a second chance.”