BRADENTON -- Manatee County Animal Services will soon have an outdoor facility for cats at the Palmetto shelter.
The first of two outdoor facilities, which will have furniture specific for cats and covered litter boxes, will be ready Wednesday, Aug. 26.
With 150 cats -- 90 at the Palmetto shelter and 60 at Downtown Meowtown -- Bill Hutchison, interim director of Animal Services, said an outdoor facility was needed to help prevent upper respiratory infections in the cats. Each wired and screen-enclosed facility will accommodate about 25 cats, Hutchison said.
Potential adopters will be able to sit with the cats in the new facilities.
"We have so many cats and so many more cats than we have space," Hutchison said during Wednesday's Manatee Animal Rescue Coalition meeting.
Less than a week ago, Hutchison contacted the county Property Management Department, which is building the outdoor facilities on the southwest cor
ner of the parking lot at the Palmetto shelter, 305 25th St. W.
"It happened in five days," Hutchison said. "It is the people in property management wanting to help us."
Hutchison gave an update on Animal Services during the meeting at the Manatee County Central Library. More than 20 people representing different animal-related organizations discussed what they are doing to help animals. Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who helped start the quarterly meetings in 2009, reinstated the meetings May 27 after a year-and-a-half hiatus.
"My purpose of my meetings is to keep everything positive and keep the core group moving forward," Whitmore said.
There are also 136 dogs at the Palmetto shelter as of Wednesday, Hutchison said.
"We seem to be settling in at 130 no matter what we do," Hutchison said. "I'm not sure what it takes to get below 100 but that's our goal. That's what we are trying to do. Our live release rate for the 11th month in a row is over 90 percent. Eleven months in a row, I think that's a trend."
The groups also discussed the success of Adopt-a-Palooza, where more than 100 animals were adopted, and the possibility of a county ordinance banning pet stores from receiving animals from puppy mills. Laurie Crawford, president of the nonprofit Animal Network, said she has been working on getting spay/neuter posters on all Manatee County Area Transit buses.
Amy Van Dell, executive director of Humane Society of Manatee County, said the 10,000-square-foot Pet Health Center, which will provide more spaying, neutering and wellness care for more animals, will open Sept. 8.
"It's just like a dream," Van Dell said of the facility, which will allow them to perform surgery three additional days.
Katie O'Neal with Feathers and Tails Hideaway said her monthly fundraiser at Motorworks Brewery raises money, which goes directly to animal organizations. O'Neal said she has nine available spots for 2016 where animal organizations can submit an essay by Oct. 31 about why money raised at the event should go to their organizations.
"I would like to be able to raise a lot of money but the only way to do it is with the rescues, fosters and shelters that are here," she said, adding she is trying to find the neediest and less known animal groups. "I really feel that there is a need for dollars out there."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.