'No Kill' goal in Manatee: finding homes for 90 percent of dogs, cats

March 12, 2013 

What is "No Kill"?

Think about those two words. What do they mean to you? If you came up with the answer that no adoptable dogs and cats would be killed, you are correct.

Some have a misconception as to what no kill actually means when we speak about it in the animal world. Because an organization may consider themselves to be no kill, it could have different meanings.

One meaning is that the shelter or rescue organization does not kill any healthy, adoptable pets. The other would be from the organization that may consider themselves 100 percent no kill, or a sanctuary, meaning that pets could live out their entire lives in a shelter or foster if they didn't find a permanent home.

At Manatee County Animal Services, we are working toward becoming no kill, meaning that at least 90 percent of all dogs and cats in our shelter will live and find forever homes. It is determined that about 10 percent are those dogs and cats that are suffering, have been badly injured, or in the case of dogs, dangerous in that they would be a public safety issue by biting or attacking people or other animals. The dogs and cats in this 10 percent would be humanely euthanized.

As we try harder each day to see no kill become a reality, we find new challenges. Sick cats, sick dogs, dogs with heartworms, cats with ringworm, dogs with mange, cats with hair loss, kennel cough, upper respiratory, on and on. Dogs and cats just don't stop coming in, nor do

we turn them away.

We have some shortfalls. We need fosters for these pets and some volunteers who want to "take charge" in helping with specific categories of need.

But just because we have some needs doesn't make us failures by any means. I look back and see where we have come in such a short period of time. I see our save rate each month, sometimes like a roller coaster, but we are succeeding.

For our fiscal year 2011, we had a 56 percent save rate. This was prior to declaring the move toward no kill with a plan and resolution supported by the Manatee County Commission, the first in the State of Florida. Now, for fiscal year 2012, just one short year working toward our no-kill goal and we end the year with a 76 percent save rate. That's a 20 percent increase, which is outstanding for everyone in this community who helped make it possible. So far this fiscal year, we are at an 82 percent save rate.

We can do better. The support from the community has always been there. Continue to support these efforts because we are not there yet. Working toward no kill has not been easy. We cannot do this alone. Thank you to the rescue organizations that help the dogs and cats every day.

Each and every pet deserves a second chance to live and love. We thank all of you in this great community and all the rescues who are dedicated to help us see this become a reality. We can and will do it!

Are you ready to give a forever home to a wonderful pet? Look no further because we have the dog or cat of your dreams right here at Animal Services. Check our website at www.mymanatee.org/pets or visit our shelter in Palmetto or our Downtown Adoption Center in Bradenton today. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.

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.

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

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