BRADENTON -- An anonymous bouquet, a flood of congratulatory missives, offers of aid and requests for information all followed the Manatee County Commission’s vote last week to convert its animal shelter to a “no kill” facility.
The county’s “no kill” resolution has attracted national attention, even prompting a Louisville, Ky., couple to propose a local museum that would feature 5,500 paintings of euthanized dogs. And Sarasota officials may be presented Manatee’s plan for consideration.
“I’ve got tons of things on my Facebook page,” said Commission Chairwoman Carol Whitmore, who worked with animal rescue groups for three years to end most euthanasia cases by December 2012.
She was surprised to find close to 1,000 comments on her personal Facebook page, and even more surprised when an anonymous bouquet arrived with thanks and a tiny dog statue set among its foliage.
Louisville artist Mark Barone and his colleague, Marina Dervan, asked whether the county might consider donating space for a permanent museum/memorial and village that would feature 5,500 paintings of dogs that had been euthanized.
“Anchoring our museum in your community would certainly be a key strategy that would align with your commitment to a No Kill county,” Dervan wrote in an email.
Karen Lawson, a volunteer at a shelter in Douglas County, Ga., sought a copy of the county’s plan.
What interested her was the possibility it could lower costs and even increase revenue, while not requiring additional funding, she wrote.
“If we could present our case in a way that is beneficial to our county and community by saving money, I believe we could bring our commissioners on board with our plan and really make a difference in the lives of so many animals languishing in our shelter,” she wrote in an email.
Also contacting county officials was Lt. Scott Ortner, director of animal services for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
He asked for a copy of the plan on behalf of the Sarasota County Commission, emphasizing that it was only a preliminary inquiry.
“There’s still an awful lot of questions I still have, and will be talking to the director of the Manatee County shelter,” he said.
Whitmore has called Manatee’s animal shelter the first of its kind in the state, and among only a few across the nation, to halt the killing of animals in its care. The commission approved a formal resolution and plan in their vote Tuesday.
The plan calls for a gradual increase in 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 who are adopted, returned to their owner, or transferred to an animal welfare organization rather than euthanized. Only animals that are terminally ill, injured and suffering, or vicious in the case of dogs, would be euthanized, Weiskopf has said.
Meanwhile, local animal lovers are celebrating.
“Hurray to all of us for a good job, well done,” wrote Jean Peelen in an email.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.