MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission is set to consider a resolution Tuesday calling for a “no-kill” policy for its county animal shelter.
Under a plan that would guide the policy, the shelter would try to gradually increase its “live release” rate from 61 percent to more than 90 percent by next year, according to Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services.
“Live release” refers to animals that are adopted, returned to their owner, or transferred to an animal welfare organization, rather than euthanized, he has said.
County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said a coalition of local animal rescue groups has been meeting once a month to come up with an alternative to regularly killing shelter animals that are too numerous to care for.
Asked what chance the plan has before the commission, Whitmore said, “I’m very hopeful; I’ve been working on this for about three years.”
“We’re trying to decrease our numbers, and hopefully, everybody will use our plan as a model,” she added.
Commissioners, who have all been briefed individually, would approve a strategic implementation plan “to give us a blessing, to show they’re behind us,” Weiskopf said.
As far as he could tell, Manatee’s shelter would be the only one of its kind in the state that actually had the backing of commissioners with a formal route away from euthanasia, Weiskopf said.
He said he had talked to some other directors and supervisors at other similar agencies across the state, and they had applauded the plan.
“But they said they are not into it that far,” said Weiskopf.
His shelter and others like it are called “open admission shelters,” which must take every animal brought to them for care, said Deborah Millman, executive director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County.
“If the county’s going ‘no-kill,’ it’s a positive sign,” she said.
“Manatee County has a very good Animal Services (department),” she said. “We take dogs from them when we have space and they’re full; everybody has to work together because there’s still not enough kennels for abandoned pets.”
The plan calls for euthanasia to be gradually phased out, increasing the “live release” rate each month by 2 percent through December 2012, Weiskopf said.
Still, even at a “no kill” facility, about 10 percent of the animals would still be euthanized if they were terminally ill, injured and suffering, or vicious in the case of dogs, Weiskopf has said.
The effort to become a “no-kill” community will not require additional funding, and may increase revenue and lower costs to the county, according to the resolution commissioners are expected to consider.
“To implement ‘no-kill’ requires a combination of efforts by Animal Services, animal welfare organizations, the media and the public,” it said.