The no-kill plan has 11 programs and services, and all of them are critical to the overall success of becoming a no-kill community.
The feral cat program is listed first in the plan, and we are fortunate to have an organization that has taken a lead role, stepping up to see the program through. While Animal Services has an initial role with this program by impounding and then transporting the community cats to the Humane Society of Manatee County for sterilization, vaccination and microchipping, it is ultimately the Gulf Shore Animal League that has the fundamental role.
Under the leadership and guidance of Audrey Garrison and her small group of volunteers, they can explain the benefits of this key program within our community plan. Without this component, our community cats wouldn't have much of a chance.
Gulf Shore Animal League is an all-volunteer group whose members have regular jobs, devoting their off hours to saving cats and helping people understand the importance of the program. Taking care of the cats does not come without an expense. To trap, pick up, sterilize, vaccinate, ear tip and microchip a cat is not free. Gulf Shore relies upon donations so the program can continue and our plan can grow.
Another key component to our no-kill plan is having a spay and neuter clinic. We are fortunate to have a clinic that offers free and low-cost sterilization services for dogs and cats.
The Humane Society of Manatee County operates this clinic with a focus to provide spay and neuter surgeries to anyone, even those pet owners with financial hardships. The Humane Society of Manatee County often applies for grants to target sterilization of cats within certain zip codes where neighborhoods are abundant with unsterilized cats, causing them to continually breed producing even more unwanted cats. Specific breeds are also targeted, such as pit bull and pit bull mix dogs. The goal of sterilization: to reduce the number of unwanted puppies.
The Animal Rescue Coalition has a mobile spay and neuter unit which comes to Manatee County at least once a week. The mobile clinic is set up at different locations to make it more convenient for the pet owner to drop off and pick up their pet for surgery. The Animal Rescue Coalition provides spay and neuter surgery by appointment only, and the pet owner must meet income guidelines to qualify.
To help these organizations to provide spay and
neuter surgeries, they need grants and donations. Providing these services is not cheap, and grants aren't always plentiful, with hundreds, if not thousands of applicants vying for the same grant dollars.
Manatee County has a multitude of animal lovers. Every person living in Manatee County has probably had a pet or two in their lives, whether it was the fish or hamster, dog or cat. With the busy, fast-paced lives most lead these days, sometime it is difficult to give of your time. Monetary donations help keep programs functioning, helping the people and pets. By donating here in Manatee County, it is guaranteed the donation stays in Manatee County, used toward helping the pets in this county.
We never forget the rescue groups, either. Animal Services always has a variety of stray and homeless dogs and cats available for transfer. We rely upon our rescue organizations to transfer pets from impoundment that are not picked up by their people or adopted to new families.
To sum this up: Gulf Shore Animal League is the main organization for the efforts with community cats. The Humane Society of Manatee County provides Manatee County with a free and low-cost clinic for spaying and neutering; the Animal Rescue Coalition provides a mobile spay and neuter unit. And, without our rescue groups, dogs and cats would not be transferred from Animal Services.
Everyone working together, internally and externally, is what we are fortunate to brag about in Manatee County. We all have the common goal of giving shelter pets a second chance to live and love.
Don't forget to check out our adoption specials for September. Manatee County Animal Services has many mini cats. We have many mini tigers, many mini lions, many mini panthers, and many mini cheetahs to choose from. All cats will receive a health check, current vaccinations, be spayed or neutered, and microchipped, a $10 license fee is required for all Manatee County residents.
Help make it a "Summer of Love" for the animals at Manatee County Animal Services. Be sure to check out our long-term residents who are now "Free to a Good Home." These dogs and cats have been at our shelter for over 60 days and are in need of finding their forever families. All dogs and cats will receive a health check, all current vaccinations, spayed or neutered and microchipped, a $10 license fee is required for Manatee County residents. Call our information line at 941-749-3067.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.