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Lee County Domestic Animal Services
Fort Myers, Florida

Lee County Domestic Animal Services, a government-operated shelter serving the county and providing animal control services, serves nearly 640,000 people. Its average cat intake is about 5,000 per year. The shelter implemented a Trap-Neuter-Return program in 2009 and is committed to creating positive community-wide change and saving cats’ lives.

PAWS Lee County is a nonprofit organization partnering with Lee County Domestic Animal Services. PAWS operates a spay/neuter clinic with discounts for feral cats, a wellness clinic with discounts for low-income pet owners, and a foster program.

70% Cats Saved

Record-High Numbers of Cats Saved in Lee County!

August 26, 2014–Lee County Domestic Animal Services is seing a record high number of cats saved in 2014 – the best it’s been in 10 years – thanks to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)! In 2007, 85 percent of cats at Lee County Domestic Animal Services were killed. After instituting a TNR program where Lee County’s community cats are returned to their outdoor homes after being neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped, that number has declined to 30 percent thus far in 2014, meaning more cats are being saved than ever!
The TNR program takes an active role in supporting caregivers and helping colonies, neutering approximately 2,500 cats a year. And the efforts continue to expand!

Alley Cat Allies Visits Lee County Domestic Animal Services

June 13, 2014–We just returned from a great check-in visit with Lee County Domestic Animal Services. While we were there, we toured the facility (which is gorgeous!), met with Shelter Director Donna Ward, and got to see some of the cats the shelter is helping! Lee County was even running a cat adoption event called “Kitten Smitten.” Like everywhere this time of year, the shelter was feeling the effects of kitten season, and was asking one and all to step up and lend a hand. Running special initiatives like this not only help to increase adoptions, but they also serve as educational opportunities for the community to learn about important cat issues, like kitten season.

Record Adoptions at Free Pet Adoption Event!

May 31, 2014–Lee County Domestic Animal Services partnered with other organizations in Lee County to offer free pets to good homes as part of the national event, Maddie’s© Pet Adoption Days. During that time, 138 animals were adopted in just two days! We’re so happy for all the cats that found homes through the hard work of Lee County Domestic Animal Services – and for the extra room made at the shelter! Taking advantage of special events like Pet Adoption Days can help shelters see a surge in adoptions, and also access more community members who might not have been aware of the shelter before.

Everybunny Needs Somebunny Event

April 31, 2014–When it comes to adoption events, Lee County is not short on creativity! For the month of April, the shelter ran an event called “Everybunny Needs Somebunny,” in honor of Easter. These creative adoption events help to gain more exposure for the shelters while also getting the community excited and involved to partake in animal-adoption events.

Big Changes at Lee County Domestic Animal Services

March 12, 2014–We recently visited Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) to check in and provide training and guidance. We found that the shelter has already made impressive strides in its transformation into a model shelter. LCDAS now performs early-age spay/neuter and will be adopting out cats who test positive for FELV or FIV.

After reviewing model shelter policies and presentations by shelter medicine expert Kate Hurley, DVM, Alley Cat Allies’ National Cat Help Desk Manager Brianna Brumbaugh trained key shelter and animal control staff on developing humane programs for cats.

Brumbaugh trained the front desk staff on humane cat deterrents to prepare them to respond to calls and questions. During her stay, she also rode along with the shelter’s lead volunteer responding to calls about community cats and noted how great she was at explaining TNR and working with the public.

Read the full story and the shelter director’s “a-ha” moment that made her realize the shelter system needs to change.

Update from Lee County Domestic Animal Services

March 4, 2014–Donna Ward, Director of Lee County Domestic Animal Services, explains why they implemented Trap-Neuter-Return—plus a sneak peak of TNR in process at their clinic, and how they're keeping feral cats comfortable before their spay/neuter surgery. Special guest—Scratcher, the shelter cat!

New Policy Helps Cats and Staff

February 28, 2014–Alley Cat Allies staff visiting Lee County Domestic Animal Services shared in shelter staff’s excitement over one of the changes brought about with help from the Future Five program. When Michele Penney, the Feline Kennel Manager, informed staff that one cat brought in earlier in the week had tested positive for FIV, a staff member expressed disappointment, but was immediately cheered when Penney told her, “oh no, we’re going to adopt out FIV kitties now!” Before the policy change, it’s very likely the cat would not have had a positive outcome. Moments like this shine a light on just how much humane programs help not just cats, but people, too.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services Staff Attends Conference

February 25, 2014–Donna Ward, Director of Lee County Domestic Animal Services, and Michele Penney, Feline Kennel Manager, attended American Pets Alive! No-Kill Conference in Austin, Texas. In addition to the conference material on making communities “No-Kill,” Ward and Penney met with Alley Cat Allies staff to discuss the future for Lee County.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services Chosen for Future Five Program

January 15, 2014–Lee County Domestic Animal Services has been chosen as one of five participants for Alley Cat Allies’ Future Five: Shelter Partners to Save Cats’ Lives program.

“We are certainly appreciative to have the guidance and support of Alley Cat Allies to strengthen our policies and programs that serve our mission for higher live release rates of stray animals,” says Donna Ward, animal services director of Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

Read the press release.

Read Lehigh Acres Citizen article on Lee County’s Future Five grant.