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Live and Learn

     As some of you may know I was asked to represent Lynchburg at the Best Friends Animal Society’s National Conference this summer in Atlanta.  I spoke to a full house and was thrilled to see so many people eager to hear how we accomplished all we did here in our small city. 
     With most conferences, even if I am going to teach, I always learn something new.  We learned some new techniques and ideas on marketing and fundraising but the ideas and operational things we learned are where you will see the most change. 
     Our biggest change is with FIV cats. The new movement is to not test for FIV because the chances of spreading it to another cat is slim if they are living peacefully with other cats.  Many cats can co-habitat with one being FIV+ and the other cats will never get the virus if they live harmoniously.  The new movement at LHS is to let FIV+ cats into group rooms; as long as they are socially compatible, they will be fine and many FIV+ cats live long lives and deserve to be treated like any other cat.  So as we “know better we do better,” we have stopped spending money on FIV testing on all the cats.  We found that over the years less than 1% tested positive and it is money we would rather spend towards treating illnesses and more advanced treatment plans. We will continue to test cats who come in from hoarding cases or if they look as though they have been in many fights with other cats or if it is generally suspected.  We will continue to offer this test to people who are foster or adopting for peace of mind if they would like but it is no longer our normal protocol. 
     The other idea that is big right now is the reporting of “Length of Stay.”  Many shelters are letting their community know the average length of stay of the pets in order to show the improvement in adoptions and moving animals out into the community.  Since we have moved into the new center we have seen a reduction in our length of stay by 20%!! That is huge.  Considering that our intake has increased by 478 more cats and dogs.  Right now dogs average stay is 16 days and for cats it is 32 days. The cat number is higher because of all the kittens who come in that stay with us until they are old enough to get adopted. This statistic demonstrates we are creative and strategic about finding placement for our pets in a timely manner,  not simply warehousing them in our building 
     Finally, there is more and more movement towards wellness care and medical services.  Many progressive organizations are developing programs to help community pet owners who have little to no means for medical expenses and wellness care.   They do this with low cost medical centers or working with local vets.  Their goal is to see a reduction in illness and to reduce the amount of economic euthanasia seen at vet clinics.  With wellness clinics we can insure that more of the pet population are protected from major disease outbreaks and that means less disease in the local shelters.  With providing assistance in the area of medical procedures we can reduce the number of pets put down because their owners can’t afford treatment.  Both programs are important and both programs will reduce the amount of pets suffering due to lack of funds.  Right now the Lynchburg Humane Society is looking at beginning with providing more wellness clinics at our spay/neuter clinic for pet owners in a low income bracket.  These pet owners are not going to the vet because of the cost and this would encourage them to begin getting the basics for their pets resulting in healthier pets in our community.
        The humane field is constantly changing and we hope to continue to stay ahead and learn new ways to save lives and affect more positive outcomes for the pets in our area.  If you would like to help us in our efforts I encourage you to like our facebook page and consider making a monetary donation to assist us in our local efforts to save more pets. 


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