We are proud to announce that we received a second-place award in community service at the 21st annual Future of the Regions Award hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for our entry entitled "Innovation for a No Kill Nation: Anything's PAWSible!"
There were a lot of entries from different counties within the Tampa Bay area for a number of various projects. We are honored to be recognized for our no-kill efforts.
For a long time and not so long ago, dogs were just dogs and cats were just cats. Over the years, people have come to better understand and cherish these pets as more than that.
Pets are companions and friends. Pets don't ever complain to you, nor do they expect anything from you. Pets are always there for you in your good times and bad.
If you have ever been sick, what makes you feel better? Who is always by your side? Your dog or cat is right there wishing they could do something to make you feel better.
Then there are the people who abuse and mistreat dogs and cats.
Those who don't care about the living and breathing soul they are kicking, beating and starving; the very dog or cat that would do anything to please them.
Many a dog or cat has been left to fend for itself, left in the cold or wet from the rain. Those are from the people who have no shame, no feeling and no care for anyone, let alone their poor pet.
Kicked to the curb, their now-abandoned pet wanders the streets looking for someone to find them. Looking for someone to care for them, love them, feed them and keep them warm.
This is where Animal Services comes in. It could be that a caring person picked the pet up and brought it to our shelter or called us to pick the dog or cat up from them.
Maybe our officer found the stray pet wandering loose. The officer checks the pet and does not find a license tag or identification. The pet doesn't even have a collar.
The officer uses a scanner to see if the pet is microchipped in hopes of finding an owner. No microchip and no owner.
The stray pet is brought to the shelter where it will be held for five days, hoping it was just lost and can be reunited with its heartbroken person or its crying family.
Sure enough, five days come and go. Now what do we do? A couple hundred other dogs and cats are in the shelter, too. More dogs and cats are coming in, so where do we go from here?
This is where we need the fosters, rescue groups, people to adopt, transition fosters and program volunteers. We want to see each and every dog and cat given a second chance to live and love.
We would like each dog and cat to be able to find a life better than they had on the street or better than the home where they were no longer wanted.
We encourage you to visit our shelter in Palmetto and see for yourself the challenges we face every day. We are sure you will see the compassion and care given to each of these dogs and cats by our own staff and core group of volunteers.
We continue to strive toward becoming a no-kill community and, with all the dedicated people in this community showing their continued support, we are sure to be there soon.
Are you ready to givea forever home to a wonderful pet? Look no further because we havethe 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 tolook 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.