Did you know? The responsible, but tough decisions of a ”no-kill”/lifesaving shelter.

"Did you know" Lynchburg Humane Society logo, a green dog icon that has a confused head tilt

Back in January, I wrote a blog about what it means to be a no-kill shelter.  That blog was an overview about the meaning of no-kill, and how it doesn’t mean that we are able to save every pet that comes to us.  While I wish we could save everyone, it’s not feasible, realistic, or responsible. But…let’s dig into that a little more.

We save a lot of lives here. We give it our all to try to save all of the pets that come to us in need.   While it is sad and difficult to make the decision to euthanize a pet when it is terminally sick or severely injured, it is, of course, the right thing to do. We never want a pet to suffer.  

But when it comes to pets (usually these are dogs) that have behavior issues and could be a risk to the community – that’s when things get real tough.  They aren’t physically sick and they aren’t suffering from injuries…but they are not safe to be adopted, so what do we do?  

We work hard – that’s what we do! We give the pet everything we can to try to make them adoptable, we look for rescues, we evaluate their behavior, we contact veterinary behaviorists, we talk with professional trainers, but sometimes none of that works and a very tough decision has to be made.  When that happens, we know we have done everything we can to save that pet, and that euthanasia may be the only safe decision.  Even though we are able to save many pets that have some behavior issues, the truth is that we are not a behavior rehabilitation facility, and so we must do what is right not only for the pet, but also for the safety of the community.  These are the decisions that are often the toughest for our staff and volunteers because these are usually pets that have been with us the longest since we take the time to do everything we can, and in that time our staff becomes very close with these pets. So when a tough decision has to be made, it can be devastating.

Because of our community, we have an amazing shelter but it is no place for a pet to stay long term.  Some pets can handle this stressful environment, and others can’t.  And if a pet is not ready for adoption or has special needs that make them harder to adopt, their stay here can be life threatening.  We do everything possible to make them comfortable during their stay, but inevitably some pets start to mentally decline. Their quality of life begins to deteriorate and if we can’t get them out of the shelter, we must make the decision to euthanize – because again, we never want a pet to suffer.  

We are fortunate that with the thousands of pets we save, the ones that are too sick, too injured, or too unsafe for the community only make up about 7% of the pets we see each year. 

Our hope is that in the future, humanity will be kinder to pets and fewer will come into shelters and when they do come into the shelters, more will be able to be saved.  But for now, we know we are doing everything possible for our community and the pets. Thank you to our staff, our volunteers, our fosters, and our community for helping us continue to save every pet we can.

Did you know? It’s easy to foster at the Lynchburg Humane Society!

Author: Miranda Ward, Community Pet Coordinator

Fostering a Cat or Dog in Lynchburg, Virginia

"Did you know" Lynchburg Humane Society logo, a green dog icon that has a confused head tilt

The Lynchburg Humane Society serves upwards of 10,000 pets each year, including the operations of our Center for Pets, our Spay/Neuter Clinic, our rehoming services, and our lost pet services. Did you know that around 2,000 of these pets are underage kittens and puppies? This is where our foster team and our amazing community of volunteer foster families comes in!

We are always searching to grow our foster community in order to help further our life-saving mission. Here are some FAQs about fostering if you’ve been thinking about getting started!

How do I become a foster?

A: You start by applying here. Once we’ve received and approved your application, you’ll receive an onboarding email from us teaching you how to join our foster Facebook page which is the best place to learn about fosterable pets. You can also send us an email at [email protected] and ask which pets are available for a match.

How much does it cost to foster a pet?

A: Nothing! Fostering is completely free. LHS provides all of the supplies, medication, and equipment it takes to care for your foster pet. We also provide all of their medical care right here at the Center for Pets with our wonderful Medical Team. You are never obligated to buy or pay for anything.

Where do the food and supplies come from for the foster program?

A: We receive a lot of our supplies from in-kind donations from our generous community! When a community member’s pet switches food, has too many toys, or blankets, they often will drop them off here to help our lost and homeless pets at LHS. LHS also buys hundreds of cans of wet food and upwards of 10-20 bags of dry food per week which is possible because of our wonderful supportive community of donors. 

Do you only need fosters for kittens?

A: Nope! We offer different kinds of placements for all sorts of pets. We need lots of kitten fosters for sure, but we’re also always looking for foster families for pregnant and nursing cats and dogs, puppies, and adult cats and dogs (and the occasional rabbit, guinea pig, ferret, or other small pet!) 

How long do I keep a foster pet?

A: It depends! If you want a shorter term placement, we offer emergency one night foster placements for pets that come in that are too small to stay by themselves in the center overnight. The next shortest term is a program called Tutoring for adult dogs to get out for a weekend and relax! After that, there are underage kittens or medical kittens that may only need care for a week or two. If you want to keep a pet for a long time, underage pets like neonates have an average stay of 3-8 weeks. Pregnant and nursing pets have an average stay in foster of 2-3 months. If you just can’t bear the thought of giving a pet back once you take them home, we also offer long term hospice fostering, which is a great way to give back, especially for people who would be interested in adopting but may not be able to afford the cost of care for medically complicated or senior pets. If you’re more of a go with the flow type, some of our medical and behavioral cases have no set limit and are just in foster until they are ready for adoption!

What do I have to do?

A: To foster, you need a place to keep the pet isolated from any resident pets. We often provide playpens and crates to help with this, but bathrooms and walk in closets work great for small pets like kittens. You just have to feed them, love them, play with them, keep them and their space clean, and come back for appointments as needed! 

Become a foster at the Lynchburg Humane Society!

If this blog encouraged you to apply, let us know in the notes on your application! We are excited to welcome you into the foster community and have you join us in this fulfilling mission to help save and care for our neediest pets. 

Did you know? At The Lynchburg Humane Society, FeLV+ cats find happiness, too!

Author: Amber Cabell, Senior Manager of Operations

What is FeLV?

"Did you know" Lynchburg Humane Society logo, a green dog icon that has a confused head tilt

Feline Leukemia Virus, or FeLV,. is an autoimmune disease that weakens a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to germs and bacteria and increasing their risk for more severe secondary illnesses such as Feline Upper Respiratory Infection. 

FeLV is contagious to other cats and can be shed in saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and the milk of a nursing FeLV+ cat. For this reason, it is not recommended for FeLV+ cats to live with cats that do not have the virus. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FeLV and cats that have the virus will have it for life. Because of this, FeLV+ cats are euthanized at shelters across the country every day. 

The Lynchburg Humane Society places FeLV cats into loving adoptive homes

Chili, an FeLV+ cat who came in with kittens! Her and all of her kittens are now adopted into loving homes.

12 FeLV+ cats found happiness 2022 and 19 so far in 2023! 

FeLV+ cats can live normal, happy lives for several years and, at LHS, we believe that that time deserves to be lived out comfortably in a home and with the love of a family. So, we have dedicated the Blue Sunroom in our front lobby to our FeLV+ cats and have reduced adoption fees to help get these amazing felines out of the shelter and into those homes as quickly as possible.

But don’t take our word for it. Stop by and visit the Blue Sunroom cats today and let them show you for themselves!

Did you know? What it’s like to work at the Lynchburg Humane Society.

Author: Michelle Thomas, Director of Development

A look into our work at the Lynchburg Humane Society

"Did you know" Lynchburg Humane Society logo, a green dog icon that has a confused head tilt

Inevitably when I tell someone what I do for a living, they react with a little awe and envy, and usually say, That must be the coolest place to work, I am so jealous!    Well, it absolutely is, but it is also one of the most emotional places to work.  Here are a few things I wish you knew about what it is like to work at LHS.

They say one’s true character is revealed in the things they do when no one is watching.  Nothing could be truer here at the Lynchburg Humane Society.  As I enter my third year at LHS, I noticed a few themes and consistencies in the work done at our Center for Pets.

Working at an animal shelter

Animal Welfare jobs are simultaneously the most rewarding AND the hardest work one could do.  Here at LHS some sixty employees help over 9,000 pets annually.  Think about that…that is a lot of helping!  On any given day, there may be 900 pets in our care, whether here at our Center for Pets, or in our amazing network of over 500 fosters.   This work can be grueling and there is never a sense of completion, there is always more to be done.  Yet our incredible staff shows up, day in and day out, and they work long hours, cleaning, feeding, walking, and caring for so many lost and homeless pets.  Below are some images of the work we do and how caring staff is, even when no one is watching. 

One of my favorite times of the day is in the evening when I can finally sit down and scroll through our company intranet chats, this is where we all post really important messages for one another, but also where we post the silliest, goofiest, cutest, and most loving moments of the day.  Our hard-working, dedicated staff, who have already worked 8, 10, 12 hours will enter the chat to share and celebrate a pet they worked with.  They truly are never not thinking about the pets.  You would rightfully be jealous of this part of the job!  It is a privilege to work here and we couldn’t do any of it without our supportive community of donors, volunteers, fosters, friends and all those cheering us on when we meet for the first time. 

Did you know? The Lynchburg Humane Society has a Community Pet Food Pantry

Free Dog and Cat Food Pantry

"Did you know" Lynchburg Humane Society logo, a green dog icon that has a confused head tilt

Did you know that the Lynchburg Humane Society has a Pet Food Pantry to help pets and people in our community. Through this program we help give back to the community when they are in need. Pet owners that need help feeding their pets can come by the Center for Pets every 30 days to get food or litter for their pets to last the month.

Our Community Pet Food Pantry is made possible by YOU! Our dedicated staff and volunteers organize and label the pet food pantry but you, our community, makes it possible with donations. All pet food that is donated to LHS that isn’t the type that LHS pets eat (we keep a consistent diet to help with tummies) goes straight back into the community via our pet pantry. 

Lynchburg Humane Society and Meals on Wheels

We have also partnered with Meals On Wheels to help get more pet food directly to community members in need through their Animeals program! Meals on Wheels is able to take pet food straight to those who need it the most and might not have transportation to come out to our Center. We are so grateful for their partnership. Recently, we were able to 480 pounds of dog food and 179 pounds of cat litter to Meals on Wheels for this program! (pictured) 

You may wonder, why give away free pet food?

Along with helping lost and homeless pets in our community and beyond, here at LHS we help people keep their pets. Anyone who wants to and can have their pet, should be able to keep them! Pet food has risen in price by extreme margins in the past couple of years and is understandably hard to afford sometimes. If we can help keep pets at home with the families that love them, we do! 

How can you help with the Community Pet Food Pantry

Every time you donate pet food you aren’t just helping the pets here at the Center, you are also helping your fellow community members and their pets, too. Donating pet food in the original packaging (open and used is okay!) is a great way to help pets. You can also sign up to volunteer at the Center for Pets and help us keep the Pet Food Pantry organized and up-to-date on labeling! Sign up on our volunteer page.