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New sanctuary director seeking out partnerships

EAST MANATEE — Molly, a sweet-faced 10-month-old golden retriever mix, sits up expectantly, her tail wagging.

There’s also a Shar Pei, a black-and-white puppy, and several other dogs of mixed ancestry, all whimpering and their eyes locked on a visitor.

Until recently, most of them were someone’s beloved pet. But with the soured economy, their owners found themselves out of a home, and the pets ended up at an animal shelter.

Lisa Hevesy, recently appointed as first executive director of Honor Sanctuary, says the number of homeless pets has grown with the worst recession of more than half a century.

“The need has been so great,” she said, seated at Nate’s Place, the adoption center donated by Benderson Development at 8435 Cooper Creek Blvd., near the intersection of University Parkway and Interstate 75.

In addition to the dogs, there are 48 cats at the shelter, most of them with free run of Nate’s Place and curled up asleep.

All of the dogs and cats are available for adoption, often the same day with screening and counseling. When adopted, the pets go to their new homes with all their shots, and they’ve been spayed or neutered. Cats are available for adoption for $50. Dogs are available starting at $100 for 2-year-old mixed breeds.

Hevesy wants to build and strengthen partnerships with other animal shelters in the county and work toward making the area a no-kill zone for healthy animals.

“We’re here to work hand-in-hand with everybody. It takes all of us,” Hevesy said.

Manatee County Animal Services, Bishop Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Manatee County all do a great job, said Hevesy, who worked with animals 12 years before relocating to this area from Connecticut.

Honor Sanctuary partners with the Humane Society on the feral and stray cat spay and neuter program, which in the past 18 months has surgically altered about 800 animals in an attempt to slow down runaway population growth.

The number of animals needing a home will likely grow until the economy turns around.

“We are very thankful to the Bendersons for providing this facility for us. Without them, these animals could not be saved,” Hevesy said.

The Sanctuary has about 120 volunteers, who divvy up the adoption, cleaning and feeding chores. Carrie Robinson was doing some of those chores last week.

“One cleanup aisle and a bowl of water,” Robinson said, much as a waitress might give an order to a cook.

Nate’s Place is open noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays.

For more information, visit www.honorsanctuary.org or call (941) 302-0933.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.

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