The Summer of Second Chances has begun, and the Lee County Humane Society has plenty of fun opportunities to help its shelter in a safe, social distancing-friendly way.

One way to support LCHS is by participating in the Pets 2 the Rescue Virtual Walk/run, in which participants complete either a 5K or one-mile walk throughout the month of May while supporting the animal shelter of their choice.

Ways to get involvedIf you’d like to participate in the run, it’s quick and easy to sign up online. To register, visit Select Lee County Humane Society and one hundred percent of the $10 registration fee will go to LCHS.

“During this time of economic stress, shelter donations are down and shelter fundraisers are canceled, but the needs of dogs and cats across the country are as great as ever,” Pets 2 the Rescue states on its website.

Events such as this one are essential to ensuring that shelters nationwide can continue to save the lives of countless companion animals during this difficult time.

The society will also participate in Giving Tuesday, May 5, by having a fun raffle. Raffle tickets are only $1, and participants may purchase as many tickets as they would like. We will provide more information as Giving Tuesday approaches, so please check out LCHS social media for the latest updates.

Benefits of pet ownershipDog owners who participate in this month’s virtual run should have an enthusiastic companion with them. Increased motivation to exercise is one of many benefits of having a pet, according to a Michigan State University article. It points out that the mere presence of a dog can encourage people to start conversations and communicate more with each other.

I’d also like to add that cats can also be leash trained and thus provide similar social benefits. I’ve certainly gotten quite a few smiles and greetings from neighbors when taking my cats outside, both on a leash and when carrying them around. Of course, in the current situation, it is best to carry out such conversations from a safe distance.

The same Michigan State University article mentions that petting and cuddling with an animal has stress-reduction benefits and produce measurable health outcomes, including lower blood Good companions.

Pets with medical needsWhile animals can help to improve our health, pets with medical needs can best recover in a loving home.

Alex Zalazar, who works at LCHS as an animal care assistant, has adopted two lovely cats from us over the past couple of months. The most recent addition is Flapjack, who Zalazar fostered before adopting in March.

“Flapjack is the most social cat ever. He loves people, and he loves being cuddled with. He loves his cat sister that I adopted earlier. They immediately connected, and there was no fighting,” Alex said.

Zalazar began fostering Flapjack when he arrived at the shelter suffering from an eye infection. The cat improved with treatment and continued monitoring from the veterinarian. Animals with medical needs like Flapjack can make ideal pets for those who understand and can meet those needs. From the picture featured in this article, it’s clear that Flapjack is indeed flourishing in his forever home.

Of course, the benefits of owning any pet depend on being able to meet the animal’s needs, including exercise, enrichment and veterinary care, to prevent stressful health and behavioral problems. As more people head back to work, pet owners will need to keep in mind animals’ needs to spend time outside and have quality time with their people.

For myself, my husband Jeff and countless other pet owners, it is a joy to come home to our animal companions waiting at the front door, ready to greet us with meows, licks, and head bunts.

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