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A VIEW TO NO-KILL: Two fabulous projects by two volunteers

When we asked for support for our no-kill programs, we received some major supporters with great ideas.

First, Caryn Hodge, the marketing director for the Chiles Restaurant Group, watched a TV show outlining how a shelter transformed its adoption program by getting professional photographers to photograph their animals. Their adoptions took off, from regular adoption photos to professional, studio type photos, complete with animals dressed in a variety of outfits and use of different props.

This program gave Caryn an idea. Using her creative talents, she organized a mission to change how the dogs and cats at Animal Services were photographed.

Caryn solicited a lot of photographers to volunteer to photograph our dogs and cats. We now have 18 photographers who have been through Animal Services, taking a few photos, getting the feel of how it will all work out. With photographers in place, Caryn has set up a schedule for each to come to Animal Services on a regular basis.

Caryn named this program “Picture Them Adopted” -- a fitting name for a program that would not have come about without her vision.

The first objective is to photograph our dogs and cats available for adoption. Using a chair and various props, dogs and cats are photographed in a setting where they can show their true personality. Frolicking, playing, running, sitting, purring and licking -- what a great program.

Eventually, the adoption dogs and cats will not be the only animals photographed. The dogs and cats in our impound area will get a chance to shine. The photographs will be part of the animals’ portfolios, going with them to their current home when their family picks them up from being lost, or to their new home as a new family member.

Eileen Erwin, store manager at Walgreens on Holmes Beach, wanted to do something to help support our no-kill program.

Eileen thought she would get everyone who entered her store involved. She did this by placing a barrel inside her store, asking customers for donations of dog and cat toys, dog and cat food, blankets, towels, anything for the animals. The barrel has our “Support No Kill Manatee County” logo on it as well.

Eileen contacted the Walgreens managers in Manatee County. She pitched her idea to all 13 stores, telling them how this will help the animals in Manatee County.

Not surprisingly, the store managers at all the Walgreens stores in Manatee County agreed. Each of them will place a barrel in their store where customers can donate items to help the animals. Anyone who wants to donate to help the dogs and cats should stop in to any Walgreens in Manatee County. Another great idea, another great project.

As Eileen’s project evolves, the plan is to assign a Walgreens store, or a group of stores, to animal welfare organizations. The animal welfare organization’s representatives will empty the barrels. The complete logistics of the plan have yet to be determined. The end result will be that stray dogs and cats will have extra food, toys to play with, blankets to keep warm, towels to dry off after a bath and anything else the thoughtful Walgreens customers choose to donate.

Thank you to Eileen for coming up with the idea, initiating a plan and supporting no-kill for the dogs and cats in Manatee County.

How can you help? We need volunteers -- and, most of all, a volunteer coordinator.

Thank you to everyone in Manatee County for supporting Animal Services and No Kill.

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From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Manatee County Animal Services is having an adopt-a-thon at our Palmetto facility. Come join in the fun and adopt a new furry family member. Dogs will be available for a $30 adoption fee and cats will be $10 for the day, which includes the required Manatee County license certificate and tag for county residents, and a microchip.

Adopt your new family member from Manatee County Animal Services today. Don’t forget about our December adoption special. We want every animal “home for the holidays.” Adopt any dog for $40 and any cat for $20 which includes the required license certificate, tag and a microchip.

For spay and neuter programs, call our information line at 941-749-3067.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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