MANATEE -- Many people use the new year to resolve to make positive changes.
The usual resolutions involve personal changes, such as losing weight or going to the gym.
But many times those resolutions are short-lived.
Manatee United 4 Pets, a coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals dedicated to helping animals, has developed six resolutions that may be easier to keep.
"We need to change hearts and minds and behaviors on our journey to a no-kill community," said Debra Starr, marketing director for Animal Network, a animal welfare group.
"People need to be educated that there is a problem," Starr said, "and this campaign is designed to do that."
The six resolutions are:
Resolve to "opt to adopt."
With only 20 percent of the household pets in Manatee County coming from rescue shelters, the statistics lean toward purchasing animals bred to be pets.
"Any campaign that makes people aware of the overpopulation of animals is helpful,"
said Bill Hutchison, interim director of Manatee County Animal Services.
By adopting a rescued cat or dog, people are reducing the need to euthanize an animal, Hutchison said.
Manatee County's goal is to be a no-kill community, where at least 90 percent of the rescued animals are adopted, and less than 10 percent have to be euthanized, he said.
Julia Johnson, vice president of UnderDog Rescues, a foster-care animal adoption group, said people are looking for pure-bred animals, and many of the rescue organizations can accommodate them.
"If you use petfinder.com you can find just the right pet closest to you," Johnson said. "It's a great web site."
Resolve to keep your pet safe from being lost.
Animals that have a county license and are microchipped can be more easily returned to their owners. Keeping contact information up-to-date ensures lost pets get home quicker and safe, according to the Manatee United 4 Pets flier.
Resolve to foster, which helps create space in the rescues and shelters.
Most of the rescue shelters in the county are overcrowded, and have established foster home programs, where rescued animals are cared for until they are adopted.
"We have our Bottle Babies program," Hutchison said, "where volunteers bottle-feed kittens that are 10 weeks old or less until they are healthy enough to be adopted."
Resolve to join the volunteer community.
Like all non-profits, local rescue groups and shelters depend on volunteers for their success.
Resolve to donate to save lives.
The shelters and animal organizations also need money to accomplish their mission.
They ask that you support their fundraisers and donate money to help them.
Resolve to spay and neuter your pet.
Animals adopted from rescue shelters are always spayed and neutered.
"You can spend up to $1,000 for a pet," said Hutchison, "or you can adopt from a shelter for as little as $20 during one of the special adoption events and go home with a great pet."