Imagine being abandoned down an alleyway, having to seek shelter and food out of a dumpster, with no place to call home. This is Simba’s reality, a stray cat that lives in a dumpster on West 9th street. When I discovered Simba, he had a gash behind his left ear and was extremely underweight. Who would leave such a loving cat to this sad fate, I don’t know. He survives off of scraps from a dumpster, and sleeps there to seek some shelter. All over Winfield, there are cats and dogs facing the same struggles as Simba.

The Cowley County Humane Society provides shelter for adoptable dogs and cats of all ages, breeds, and sizes. CCHS is a non-profit organization that has been open since 2003 and can hold up to 53 dogs and 60 cats at one time.

You might notice the abundance of stray cats and dogs around Winfield. Teresa Harden, director at CCHS, said, “Over population in communities is a multifaceted issue. Some of the contributing factors include an abundance of non spayed and neutered animals to the public, resistance to spay/neuter, availability of animal shelters in the community, and the mentality of the community regarding pets as disposable property.”

As a result of animal overpopulation in communities, tens of thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized each day in the United States. “Euthanasia is not a solution to pet overpopulation, but it is an unfortunate and in most cases necessary means of population control for many communities,” Harden said.

In order to protect adoptable animals from such an undesirable fate, there are steps to take before becoming a pet owner.

“You have to consider the following questions before making a commitment to bring home a companion animal. Have you discussed this decision with all stake holders and does everyone agree? Do you have the time and financial resources to provide adequate care? What is your living situation and what pet would be most suited to sharing the space? What is your activity level? Are you prepared to provide additional time and financial resources to support issues or medical needs?” Harden said.

Mary Brill, animal care manager at CCHS, oversees all the animal’s medical needs and overall well-being while they are at the shelter. She is well aware of the harsh realities at humane societies. “I do get attached to the animals. I have to step back on a regular basis and gather myself so that I do not bring everyone home.”

Brill emphasizes looking at all sides before adopting or buying animals. “Really dig into your heart and soul and make sure you are ready to make the lifetime commitment to the animal. Since pets can live 14 plus years, you really need to think before adopting at the drop of a hat.”

As a non-profit organization, CCHS relies mostly on donations from the community to provide shelter, care, and numerous services for lost or unwanted animals. “Monetary contributions help us tremendously as 66 percent of our budget comes from public support. We are happy to receive donations of goods including paper towels, used carriers, collars, leashes, used bedding, and toys that help us care for the animals,” Harden said.

CCHS’s services include open adoption services, foster services, low cost spay/neuter clinic, stray housing and care for Winfield and Arkansas City, and microchip services.

“Sharing your life with a companion animal can be incredibly rewarding and one of the most memorable relationships you will have. Make sure you have considered all of the factors involved with being a responsible pet parent and you will reap the rewards of a loving and lasting friendship,” Harden said.

If anyone is interested in volunteering, donating or the services CCHS offers, you can call them at (620) 221-1698 or check out their website, www.cowleycountyhumanesociety.org.

Alyssa Richardson is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at alyssa.richardson@sckans.edu.