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Spreading Pawsitivity

City of Liberty Animal Shelter faces overcrowding.

Regan Johnston

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Some nuzzle right up to you, burrowing their nose against your hand, waiting for affection and love. Others bark and jump at the sound of you coming home. But how would it be different if that pet didn’t have a home or a caring owner?

The answer is simple, but tragic. They would most likely be at a kill shelter, the City of Liberty Animal Shelter. If a dog or cat is there for too long or the shelter runs out of space or resources, they euthanize the animal. This shelter is full all year round because of the overwhelming number of strays in Liberty.

Many people believe the shelter is only full during the holiday season, but this isn’t the case. According to Animal Control Officer Samantha Lehman, who works at City of Liberty Animal Shelter, the shelter is packed all year long. She says the reason people think it’s only full during the holiday season is because that’s when people come to the shelter most, looking to add a pet to their family for Christmas.

Even though the shelter is full year-round, there are unique challenges the shelter faces during the holidays. Senior Carly Mantia, a former volunteer at Wayside Waifs, has a theory about this.

“I think what happens during the holiday season is people tend to adopt animals and then they decide they’re too old and they want a new puppy or a new kitten for Christmas,” Mantia said. “So they’ll take their old dog or cat to the shelter.”

Another challenge the shelter faces during the holiday season is people giving pets as gifts. While the intentions are pure, the gesture does more harm than good if the pet is given to an unfit home.

“Do not give someone an animal as a gift,” Lehman said. “Allow that person to seek the appropriate pet for them. Unless that individual has expressed they definitely want a specific type and they’re an adult, I think you should let them make that decision on their own.”

The shelter uses every resource available to help the animals find proper homes.

“We try to get the word out on social media. We also utilize rescue facilities that can come in and take animals from us,” Lehman said. “There are private organizations that have a number of volunteers who can take animals to adoption events over the holiday season to help promote them and get them adopted a bit faster.”

As the only pet shelter in Liberty, it is understandable that it needs all the help it can get. The Veterinary Center of Liberty gives assistance whenever they can.

“If there is a sick kitten or something that they find and they need us to help with medical issues, we will keep the animal and we will put it up for adoption,” senior Harlie Winters, who works at the Veterinary Center, said. “Or if one of our employees finds an animal, we bring him or her in and make sure they get the care they need.”

To improve the problem of lost pets being picked up by the shelter, it’s important for Liberty residents to identify their pets.

“Use collars, tags, or microchips to make pets identifiable. Rather than completing a stray and having them available for adoption, we can help reunite them with their owners more easily,” Lehman said. “Another thing they could do is be a little bit more understanding with their animals and willing to complete [behavioral] training rather than surrender them to the facility.”

The shelter needs volunteers to help. Mantia adds that another great way to help out is by donating money.

“I think volunteering at your local shelter around this time of year is a great thing to do,” Mantia said. “A lot of shelters are low on supplies so donating things like treats and food is a great way to help them out.”

To Lehman, it’s clear to see why people should care about these animals.

“Because lives matter,” Lehman said. “I would say the same reason as why we would care about children in need of homes is why we should care about animals in need of homes.”

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Spreading Pawsitivity