MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission on Tuesday unanimously OK’d a resolution and action plan that would guide its county animal shelter toward a “No Kill” policy.
Under the plan, the county shelter would try to gradually increase its “live release” rate from about 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 owners, or are transferred to an animal welfare organization, rather than euthanized.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore said Manatee’s animal shelter is the first of its kind in the state, and among a very few across the nation, to try to halt the killing of animals in its care under a formal resolution and plan approved by the commission.
There were a few complaints from members of the public.
Among them was Mike Picchietti, who lives in the eastern part of the county near a new animal rescue shelter, the Honor Sanctuary.
He complained that he was bothered by barking dogs, and that the county’s noise ordinance does not cover his situation.
“Not all the consequences of the ‘No Kill’ plan have been considered,” he told the commission.
He predicted that, as the number of saved dogs and cats increased, the noise levels for neighbors would increase also.
Another who objected was Dennis Vitton, president of Tropic Isle Mobile Home Park, representing 495 homeowners.
He did not oppose the “No Kill” policy, but objected to having feral cats returned to the community under the shelter’s “trap and release” program.
“After being trapped and removed, we don’t want them back,” he told commissioners.
Speaking in favor was Rebecca Neal, the incoming president of the Humane Society of Manatee County.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said, adding that it has been the Humane Society’s mission over the last five years to lead Manatee toward “No Kill.”
She predicted that, as stepped up spay-and-neuter programs proceed, the population of animals needing care or placement will decline.
She called the county’s effort “a great achievement” and applauded it as a compassionate way of solving a difficult problem.
Another speaking in favor was Jean Peelen, who said, “I think we’re taking an incredibly bold step; we will be the first county in Florida to do this, and that will make us a model for Florida and the nation.”
The county animal shelter is called an “open admission shelter,” because it must take every animal brought to its door.
The plan approved Tuesday calls for euthanasia to be gradually phased out, increasing the “live release” rate each month by 2 percent through December 2012.
However, 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.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.