Just a job? Not even close……Leon County Humane Society
What started as an animal intake shelter in 1960, is now a rescue group for homeless and neglected animals to the tune of almost 700 animals taken in annually. Although resources are scarce, the need for help is great. This need is what drives Executive Director, Lisa Glunt, who has worked with animals for 15 plus years. Initially interim director for the outgoing director in 2015, Lisa’s new position soon became permanent. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Lisa developed and implemented their “Pawsitive Readers program”. This “win-win” program allows elementary school children (accompanied by a parent or guardian) to come and read books aloud to the cats and kittens at the shelter. The end result is kids learn to read out loud more confidently and the kitties get used to being around people.
As with most successful outcomes in life, it takes a village….Lisa has a team of six but with the number of animals they deal with annually they have had to mobilize a fairly large group of volunteers to help. Volunteer responsibilities as well as the people who make up the volunteer groups vary greatly. Tallahassee is a large college town… home to FSU, FAMU, and Tallahassee Community College. Several college groups serve once yearly at their outdoor events and dog washes. The bulk of their volunteer time, however, is made up by the following:
- Morning kitty care (mainly retired individuals) 35-40 people.
- Afternoon kitty care (middle school and high school students) 40 people.
- Cat and dog foster parents 80 people.
- Pawsitive Readers (children ages 4 and up who practice their reading while socializing with adoptable cats) approx. 120 (depending on the season-very busy during the summer).
- Reception volunteers 20 students and retired individuals.
LCHS receives many more volunteers throughout the year for community service (both school and court ordered), special events, animal transport, Eagle Scout and other service projects.
So what drives this Executive Director? Lisa grew up trying to save every turtle that crossed the road, every lizard that made its way into her house, and every kitten that her careless neighbors discarded over their fence. Her love and compassion for animals is transparently evident in every part of her day. This deep seated desire to help abused and abandoned animals does not belong to Lisa alone….she will tell you that she has never worked with a more compassionate, caring, and devoted group of people from the LCHS volunteers and foster parents, to the staff. Backed by a very supportive board of directors, Lisa and her team work hard to Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Educate. The end goal is to foster a kinder community for people and their pets.
Fortunately, LCHS has had many success stories. One such story from September, 2016 was the safe removal and rehoming of over 34 Chihuahuas from a dilapidated and unlivable single wide trailer. Ranging in age from puppies to seniors, most of the dogs were experiencing medical issues that included severe flea infestation, dry eye, cherry eye, cataracts, skin and urinary infections, intestinal parasites, and heartworms. Having very little socialization, most of the dogs were also very fearful of humans. Thankfully, all dogs have since been placed in very loving homes!
Not every story, however, has a happy ending. Anytime an animal cannot be saved is tragic. A recent case is that of Annabelle, an eight year old English bulldog, who had been bred for profit all of her life. Annabelle was transferred from a crowded rural shelter to LCHS after Thanksgiving 2016. Upon accepting her into their care, LCHS found that Annabelle had some daunting medical issues including severe dry eye, cherry eye, and heavily infected eyes, ears, and skin. Unfazed, LCHS set about getting Annabelle started on her road to full recovery. Sadly, just weeks into her rehabilitation they received the news that due to end stage kidney disease, her time was very limited. The goal for Annabelle then changed from providing medical care and preparing her for adoption, to treating the issues they could while making her comfortable. It became imperative for Annabelle to live out her last months with a family that loved her. Without hesitation, that family was Lisa’s.
Lisa, her volunteers, and her team of 6 believes it is very important to teach our future generations to love and respect animals and in particular, learn to understand the importance of spaying/neutering, adoption, and the proper care at every stage of an animals’ life. While rescue work is often emotionally challenging and at times heartbreaking, the impact made on individual lives combined with the love of doing what they do, makes it all worthwhile. The phones never stop ringing and the emails never stop coming. But on a positive note, Tallahassee’s strong and diverse nonprofit network provides great potential for the community. Unfortunately, it also makes for steady competition of much needed funding.
When asked what is important for people to know about Leon County Humane Society, Lisa says this….” While the primary concern is always the animals in our care and how to save more, LCHS goes above and beyond for the people in our community as well. We are often seen as the last hope for a person who is in a desperate situation or whose animal has been turned away by an animal shelter.” Aside from the many individual acts of assistance, LCHS has created the following opportunities for people:
- Pet Food Pantry- In order to keep pets in homes and out of the shelter environment. LCHS offers pet food assistance to individuals facing financial hardship (esp. seniors)
- In 2016, LCHS provided 7,390 lbs. of dog and cat food and 1,929 lbs. of cat litter as well as treats, toys, bedding, etc.
- Hartsfield Elementary 21st Century Afterschool program- LCHS has adopted this struggling after school program in an effort to provide humane education to students who have the ability to directly affect how animals are treated in their homes and neighborhoods. These 2nd-5th graders whose families are unable to afford the school aftercare program learn about animal welfare topics directly relating to their community
- LITE- LCHS proudly serves as a worksite for LITE (Leon’s Intensive Training for Employment), a comprehensive four (4) year career development program for Leon County high school students with exceptional needs. Through weekly cooperative education sessions, students are introduced to essential job skills and activities that prepare them to be successful and productive members of the community and workforce.
With two different groups each week, rotating every semester, the LCHS is a successful worksite for 40 exceptional education students each school year. Students get hands-on experience learning important work ethics, pet socialization techniques, animal care basics, facility maintenance, inventory and stocking, as well as an introduction to the field of animal welfare. The LCHS benefits from the addition of dependable skilled volunteers with the potential to become devoted animal advocates as well as knowledgeable pet owners.
Check out Leon County Humane Society and if so inclined, please donate at: http://www.lchs.info/