By Jean Peelen
Some great news! State Senator Michael Bennett of Bradenton is introducing a bill to have the entire State of Florida become no-kill. He is basing his effort and the legislation on Manatee County’s commitment to no-kill. We can be so proud of ourselves. We are the leaders in the State of Florida. Hurray Manatee County!
And here at home, no-kill Manatee is rolling on. We have both progressed and stumbled along the way, but we keep moving forward. In September, 55% of the dogs and cats that came into Animal Services were either adopted, turned over to rescue groups, or kept alive at Animal Services. Our goal, by December 2012, is to have a 90% saved rate.
In October, our saved rate went up to 68%. That’s an amazing improvement and well beyond the 2% per month we were expecting. We don’t imagine that the rate of keep ‘em alive will continue so dramatically. Adoptions are up, particularly by Animal Services directly, and up a little by other rescues and shelters. Partly the jump in the numbers is due to holding more animals – not killing them. Of course we can’t continue to do that.
To keep our numbers moving positively:
- We have to help the rescue groups and shelters to take more Animal Services dogs and cats. We can do this by enrolling more and more people in fostering animals until they can be adopted.
- We have to increase the number of rescue groups that pull dogs and cats from Animal Services, and particularly ones that will take large dogs and pit mixes. .This basically is a research project.
- We have to have volunteers who will contact rescue groups to take particular dogs and cats. We haven’t quite figured out the logistics of this task yet.
A very exciting new part of marketing our dogs more effectively is that a group of about 14 professional photographers are going to Animals Services regularly to take attractive photos of our dogs. I’ve seen the first pictures and they are great! Just imagine a grinning put bull on a pink velvet chair with pearls on her neck. Very wonderful. These photos will be posted on the Manatee County Animals Services Web site, but also on www.petfinder.com, and on BradentonDog.com.
We are doing a lot of thinking about how to deal with what we call “community cats.” These are cats that are not feral, but also don’t seem to belong any more to a particular home. When someone complains, and these cats are brought in, it is extremely rare that their owners come to get them. They have been being killed at a high rate. Right now, our program for so-called feral cats is to trap them, neuter them, return them to their colonies, and feed them. In time, the colonies get smaller because the cats are neutered. We are thinking about the possibility of doing something similar with non-feral cats. It would seem to me that almost anything would be preferable to death. It’s going to take some considering.
And one more thing. On Nov. 5, I attended the grand opening of Honor Sanctuary’s Dog Ranch. You must come see it for yourself. It is located at 5401 Lorraine Road, Bradenton. Honor rescues and shelters dogs (and a few cats) there. They have built (and are continuing to build) absolutely adorable cottages for their animals. The dogs are housed five or six to a cottage, each with a separate wire run with a comfy bed in it – sometimes with quilts. Each run has a doggie door to private outside runs.
The dogs living in these conditions are calm, non-stressed, even happy. They are friendly and quiet – no hysterical barking. As you might guess, this also makes them much more attractive for adoption. I was so impressed by the vision involved in creating this shelter that is so totally different than any I’ve ever visited. Kudos to Honor Animal Rescue for the wonderful place they have created.
So that’s the report for October. Come aboard. Adopt a pet or foster a pet. We love snow bird fostering, so don’t let that stop you. If you are interested in fostering, call me, Jean Peelen, at 941-896-5827, or write to me at [email protected].
And come meet me and talk about fostering. I will be at Canine Christmas, November 19, at Bishop Animal Shelter on 51st St. W across from Blake Hospital. I’ll be staffing the no-kill booth! Come by and say hello.