MANATEE -- The furry faces at Manatee County Animal Services were visited Tuesday by Paws for Hope and Faith, an Internet-based group that travels the country helping to find homes for dogs and cats in animal shelters.
Shane Smith, who co-founded the organization with his wife, Janet Smith, came to Manatee County from his home town of Macon, Ga. to help push for pet adoptions. Paws for Hope and Faith uses social networks to market dogs and cats in animal shelters nationwide.
They've found homes for more than 600 pets since they began a year and a half ago.
"We travel around to shelters and we get the directors to sign a pardon with us that no animals get euthanized while I'm in town and we try to re-home the animals," said Smith, who said the organization is in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization.
The group garnered the
attention of "Fox and Friends After the Show Show," a program on the Fox News Channel, which came to interview the Smiths and shed light on Manatee's efforts to become a no kill county for shelter animals. The show aired live segments from outside the animal shelter.
Kris Weiskopf, manager of Manatee County Animal Service, was delighted to have Smith and Fox and Friends come visit.
"We're kind of excited to have that happened," Weiskopf said. "Shane thought what better way to do it than to have Fox and Friends come here from New York to do it."
In October 2011, Manatee County became the first county in Florida to become a no kill community, which means at least 90 percent of sheltered animals will not be euthanized while waiting for a new home.
Through Saturday, Animal Services is allowing the public to adopt pets free although residents of unincorporated county must purchase a $15 license. To adopt a pet, people are encouraged to bring their loved ones and current pets to test for compatibility.
The shelter is 8 percentage points away from reaching the 90 percent no kill goal.
"We want to get them in homes," said Weiskopf. "It's a known fact that there are actually more people looking for a dog or cat than we have dogs and cats available."
"We have just under 200 dogs and cats in the shelter. We hope to find each of them a home," he said.
For more information call Manatee County Animal Services at 941-742-5933.