'No kill' becoming part of Manatee's community vocabulary

October 2, 2012 

The no-kill plan, the concept, and "no kill" itself was not in our vocabulary just a few short years ago. Now the words flow freely -- not only with staff, but with the citizens in our community as well. These words motivate everyone involved as we move ever closer to reaching our goal.

I have mentioned that we can do better, and this still holds true with new ideas being tossed around all the time. New people are getting involved every day. The more everyone becomes aware of what this means, the better chances we have to become another area, in just a few across the nation, to be a no-kill community.

I walk through our shelter often and each time I think to myself how unbelievable it is the number of dogs and cats left homeless. Where are their families? Why were they left alone and afraid? What did they do wrong? These are questions I don't understand, either. You look into their eyes and see their loss, confusion and sadness. They don't know why they are in a strange place.

This is where we come in. We made a commitment to become a no-kill community. We need to make sure the dogs and cats are given that second chance they deserve, to live and love.

Look at your own pet, if you have one. Have they ever judged you? I think you know the answer to be "NO." Aren't they the first to greet you at the door when you come home from work? Good day or bad day, your pet doesn't care. They missed you either way. A smile always comes across your face as your dog or cat

shows you how much they missed you. Your pet doesn't ask for much. They are dependent upon you to take care of them. Food, water, shelter and veterinary care; simple needs for a lifetime of fulfillment and companionship. Who could ask for anything more?

If you don't have a dog or cat and have just thought about it, now is the time to think harder and make the commitment. Animal Services has a lot of dogs and cats available for adoption. These are dogs and cats whose people never came for them, dogs and cats that only ask for your love and the chance to give you the same in return.

Visit our shelter to see for yourself. We have two locations: our main facility in Palmetto and our adoption center in downtown Bradenton. Bring your family and play with the cats or walk the dogs. Find a pet that will fit perfectly into your family. Even if you are not ready to make the commitment to adopt a pet, maybe fostering or volunteering is right for you.

We have dogs and cats with minor issues that may be better treated in a quiet home environment. If you have room in your home and in your heart, we have a pet for you, even if it's just a temporary home. We also have plenty of volunteer opportunities at both of our locations. Human interaction with the dogs and cats helps them to be more calm and comfortable when it's time for their new home. Playing with the cats and dogs, helping with adoptions, showing visitors around the shelters, cleaning cat cages and dog runs are just a few great things you can do to volunteer.

Helping us help the pets will put a smile on your face. We look forward to seeing your smiling face soon. No-kill is a community effort and we will succeed in giving shelter pets a second chance to live and love.

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, and be spayed or neutered and microchipped, a $10 license fee is required for Manatee County residents.

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky, too.

Free and low-cost spay and neuter programs: Call our information line at 941-749-3067.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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