Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
It's a highly select club whose members aren’t exactly jumping to join: Klein Animal Shelter's Lonely Hearts Club.
The program launched earlier this month as part of a campaign to find homes for animals who, for some reason or another, have yet to be adopted.
Browsing through the online photos of the “members,” the sad look on the yellow Labrador retriever's face is enough to break one's heart.
The 7-year-old Leroy first arrived several years ago as a stray at the Jacksonville shelter and adopted in 2009 “into what we thought was a good home,” recalled shelter executive director Angela Wallace.
“Unfortunately, his new owners did not take care of an ear infection and Leroy spent the next year cowering in a closet due to the pain,” she said.
He returned to the shelter last fall, where “he received proper veterinary care and has returned to his loving self,” and now the sturdy yellow retriever is ready to share his life with a loving family, she said.
He is just one of 30 or so cats and dogs who are featured on the shelter's website, kleinshelter.org.
“We'd been debating how to market these guys, who are between the ages of two and 12, who have been here awhile,” Wallace said. “Being an open-door shelter means we accept any animal, regardless of temperament, health or its cuteness – and because we don't set time limits (on adoptions), some animals stay with us an extended period of time.”
Much like Lady, a beautiful brown and white medium haired tabby, who has been at the shelter since July 2009.
The five-year-old feline's owner passed away, and none of the family members wanted to keep her.
“Her story is a common one,” Wallace said. “The circumstances of human lives are constantly evolving and pets often lose their homes as a result of these life changes.”
As part of the Lonely Hearts campaign, participants cages are specially marked with tags bearing the LHC designation on bold, red hearts.
“We hope that by drawing attention to these guys, potential adopters will give them special consideration,” she said.
“We're highlighting them on our Facebook page (wwww.facebook.com/kleinshelter) and talking to different media so that we can find adopters for them, people who may have initially overlooked them.”
Wallace said that some of the Lonely Hearts Club pets will be taking part in Saturday's County Critter Carnival held from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Nichols Green Park, but that all are available for meeting at the shelter.
Special adoption discounts will be offered to those considering any of these special pets.
“A shelter is a very high-stress environment – for its people and its animals. It's unfortunate that any animal winds up in a shelter, but for those that do, it's important to re-home them as soon as possible,” she said.