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Spay, neuter & adopt, not shop

By Staff | May 18, 2023

Every year, just when the weather in Southwest Florida turns perfect — warm sunny days, cool breezy nights, we get the perennial press release from the county: “Kitten Season in full swing at Lee County Domestic Animal Services.”

For those of us who consider our four-legged furries family members, it’s a buzz kill worse than the start of mosquito season.

Each spring, area shelters get inundated with guests that might be better called frightened and confused conscripts. Many are cats and kittens and it is harder for shelters and rescues to find homes for them as compared to dogs and puppies.

This year, the numbers are up.

“Since January of this year, there has been a 12.6% increase in cats arriving at the shelter,” the Lee County Domestic Animal Services received last Friday states.

The county agency has taken in 776 felines so far this year.

What happens to them?

Most have what could be called a positive outcome. A handful are claimed by their owners. Some are brought to the agency as trap-neuter-release strays and they are treated and released back to their colony location. Many are transferred to various rescues. Some are adopted into their “forever” home, a best-case scenario.

In February, about 82 percent of cats taken in fell into one of those “live release” scenarios compared to about 92 percent of dogs.

In March, about 76 percent of cats were a “live release” compared to about 86 percent of dogs.

The rest…. were not.

For those troubled by the numbers, let us emphasize that this is not a problem with Domestic Animal Services.

To quote Pogo:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Those of us who do not spray or neuter.

Those of us who think it’s OK for pets to free roam.

Those of us who buy a pedigreed or trendy cross-breed only to discover that we should have done some research before paying plenty for a companion with traits that require lots of training or expensive care.

But back to “kitten season.”

Lee County Domestic Animal Services is asking for the community to adopt, foster or donate.

Here is how to help:

New families are needed for all those cats and kittens. Now through Tuesday, May 30, all adoption fees on cats and kittens will be waived with an approved application.

Not only will you get a fur-ever companion, but a bargain to boot — adoption packages are valued at more than $600 as spay/neuter, age-appropriate vaccinations, county license, microchip, deworming and feline aids and leukemia test for cats, (heartworm tests for dogs 6 months and older) are all included.

The adoption center hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Adoptable pets can be viewed online at LeeLostPets.com and applications can be filled out in advance.

Call 239-533-7387 for more information.

For those who can’t make a lifetime commitment, fosters are needed as well to provide essential care for kittens or puppies who are too young for adoption; for nursing mothers and their litter; and for other animals in need including those recovering from an injury.

All new fosters are provided with all supplies needed as well as any necessary medical care.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services will host a Friday Foster Friendzy from noon to 3 p.m. next Friday, May 26, at 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers, to identify foster families who will care for animals not yet ready for adoption.

To complete your foster or adoption application ahead of the event, visit leegov.com.

A foster counselor will see what kind of pet may fit best with you and family.

“At the event, prospective fosters will meet a few ideal candidates. Anyone who finds a match will be able to take the foster home,” officials said.

Anyone who is unable to attend the event but still wishes to foster a pet can visit leelostpets.com and complete the application. Animal Services will contact you after the application is processed.

Have questions?

Email AAcevedo2@leegov.com.

Can’t adopt or foster but still want to help?

Donations are always welcome and there are some items especially needed during kitten season, officials said.

Those items include baby blankets, water bowls, kitten nursing bottles, flat dishes, digital thermometers, cat beds, Dawn dish soap, cat nail trimmers and Royal Canin baby cat food.

Items can be dropped off at Animal Services at the 5600 Banner Drive location during regular hours.

Online donations to the Animal Care Trust Fund are also appreciated and can be found at leegov.com.

“The Animal Care Trust Fund helps provide additional lifesaving services and community outreach,” officials said.

Committed pet owner?

Please, please, please have your pet spayed or neutered. The world is a harsh place for unwanted animals.

The Lee County Domestic Animal Services web sites lists a handful of low-cost clinics at leegov.com.

The Cape Coral Animal Shelter also offers low-cost veterinary services, including spay and neuter.

A list of services offered, including a cost schedule, may be found at capecoralanimalshelter.com.

The solution to “kitten season” lies with us.

Spay. Neuter. Adopt, don’t shop.

–Breeze editorial