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Depending on the day, a walk past PetSmart on Wards Road could mean an invitation to pet, hold and even adopt a puppy or a kitten from the Humane Society in need of a home.
The Humane Society for Campbell County (HSCC) is a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, strives to save 3,000 animals each year from those that have been abandoned or surrendered to the Campbell County Animal Control Facility.
Matt Smith, executive director of HSCC, said that animals are received primarily from animal control facilities, as well as through owners who surrender animals that they no longer have the means to provide with care.
“We also have animals that are born into care,” Smith said. “For us to take animals in, be it through private surrender or through animal control facilities, the big thing that we want to do is go out and meet the animal, check its health and check its temperament.”
Smith said that the large number of abandoned or surrendered animals comes mostly from young college student or young adult owners.
“(Young adults) get animals, and they don’t realize what is involved in animal care,” Smith said. “One of the big components of that is, sadly, people don’t get their animal spayed or neutered. And then you have animals that come into careliterally as lost animals, and their owners either never make a good attempt to find the animal or they are unsuccessful.”
Laura Critzer, who coordinates communication between HSCC and anyone interested in fostering an animal, said that many owners fail their animals by getting them for the wrong reasons.
“When you get a puppy and you’re still in school, working and traveling, that dog is left alone for a really long time with no supervision,” Critzer said. “It’s during these periods of time they get bored and pick up bad habits. By one year old, the owners are just fed up, they don’t want to work with the dog, and (it) ends up at an animal shelter.”
According to Smith, all dogs taken from shelters stay in foster care because HSCC does not have a facility to house them. These foster homes are applicants who have shown interest through the website or through HSCC’s Facebook page.
Once a foster family passes approval, Critzer said that they can specify what breed and sex they want and then choose the animal for the family.
“(HSCC) chooses the animals based on the preferences of the available foster homes as well as the potential they see in the animal,” Critzer said. “We have dogs and cats on all ends of the spectrum because what one person might not like in a pet, someone else might want that exact trait. That’s the beauty of what we do.”
LeeAnna Early, a volunteer for HSCC, saw firsthand the work and dedication of foster families and other volunteers as she transported puppies to and from foster homes for adoption events at PetSmart.
“I think the foster care system for the pets is really good because … pets have a home and loving people that are taking care of them and taking interest in them,” Early said. “I think that it should be made more known. I think (foster care) is a really good way to get involved, but it’s not a long-term commitment.”
Making that long-term commitment is something that Smith said to think about seriously before bringing a new pet home. Smith also advised potential pet owners to do research beforehand.
“It is not an impulse thing to do, and once you get the animal, stay on top of the animal’s needs,” Smith said. “Understand that it’s just like taking another human being into your house. That means you need to be considering its medical needs, its requirements for playtime and stimulation. Make sure that that animal is a healthy member of your family.”
Agreeing with this statement, Early said that someone who goes out for more than eight hours a day should not own a pet.
“You need to think about when you’re going to be home and when you’ll be able to take your lunch breaks to go back home and let (your pet) out,” Early said.
According to Critzer, fostering an animal before becoming an owner is a smart step to take.
“With fostering, you can get an idea of what it’s like to have a dog or cat without the long-term obligation,” Critzer said. “And you get the satisfaction of helping an animal in need.”
For more information about HSCC, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/humanecampbell.