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The solution is in our hands

By Staff | May 5, 2021

Spring in Southwest Florida is glorious but the pre-summer lull brings more than great weather and less crowded beaches.

May heralds in what local animal shelters call “kitten season,” and no, all love for the fuzzy, furry little hairballs packed with cuteness aside, it’s not a welcome time.

The annual deluge of both adult cats and babies crowds shelters, stresses shelter staff and, all too often, forces Lee County Animal Services to seek more adoptive or foster families for the animals in their care or put down more of them, including healthy dogs and cats that would make wonderful pets.

If you agree that is not a good option, there are several ways we can help.

In the short term, we can donate money or supplies to our shelter of choice; help a shelter free up space by volunteering to foster a pet in between homes, or, if you’re in for the long haul, adopt, not shop.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services is reducing its adoption fees next month in honor of another May perennial — prom season. Adult dog adoptions are just $30; adult cats adoptions $25 with an approved application.

Each week, Animal Services also will feature a “Prom King and Queen” with the adoption fees for those animals waived.

Not only will you get a fur-ever companion, but a bargain to boot — adoption packages are valued at more than $500 as spay/neuter, age-appropriate vaccinations, county license, microchip, deworming, heartworm tests for dogs 6 months and over and feline aids and leukemia test for cats, are all included.

Long-term, the solution is having pets spayed or neutered.

Nearly all veterinary clinics perform the procedures, there are low-cost spay and neuter clinics throughout Lee County, the Cape Coral Animal Shelter has a low-cost clinic that offers those services and Lee County Domestic Animal Services has a program to help those needing financial assistance.

To qualify for assistance, pet owners must be receiving unemployment benefits, food stamps, Social Security disability, WIC checks or Medicaid. Appointments are required and may be scheduled online or by calling 239-533-9234.

Cats will receive sterilization surgery, a rabies vaccination (if three months old or older), a microchip ID and a Lee County license (if three months old or older).

Dogs will receive sterilization surgery, a rabies vaccination (if three months old or older), a microchip ID, DA2PPV vaccine, and a Lee County license (if three months old or older).

A final way to mitigate kitten season is to help get strays and feral cats “fixed.”

Lee County has a Trap-Neuter-Return Program, which is designed “to prevent the unwanted litters of feral and free-roaming cats.”

The cats receive sterilization surgery, a rabies vaccination if three months old or older, a microchip ID, and their left ear will be tipped as the universal sign of a sterilized feral cat.

It’s a free program that helps reduce feral and stray populations while also preventing “the needless deaths of thousands of cats each year.” Appointments are required.

For more information on Lee County Domestic Animal Services programs, call 239-533-9234 or visit leegov.com/animalservices. Veterinary and spay or neuter services may be found at leegov.com/animalservices/vetservices/spayneuter/osnappointments.

From donations to responsible adoption — there’s a way to become part of the solution this “kitten season” and beyond.

— Citizen editorial