You can help save the pets

Published: Monday, August 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 10:31 p.m.

July 1, 2005 marks the beginning of a new year in the Maddie's Pet Rescue Project in Alachua County. This is the beginning of the fourth year of this collaborative effort to provide homes for animals sheltered by Alachua County Animal Services at the John M. Snyder Animal Shelter.

Working with Alachua County Animal Services in this effort is the Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Puppy Hill Farm, Haile's Angels Pet Rescue and Helping Hands Pet Rescue.

The "other partners" in this effort are the citizens of our community who have lovingly opened their hearts and homes to the many shelter animals that have been adopted.

Through the kindness and support of our community, 11,366 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens have been adopted over the last three years of this project. This is over 3,700 more than the animal shelter would have expected to achieve without the help of the Maddie's Pet Rescue Partners and the outpouring of support from individuals within our county.

Despite this tremendous effort, we fell below the adoption goal set by the Maddie's Foundation for year three of the project. We were hopeful that an additional 800 animals would have found new homes during the past 12 months.

As we enter year four of the project, we will strive for even greater numbers of animals to be adopted. We encourage everyone within our community to assist with the effort to end the euthanasia of companion animals within our county.

Here are some ways everyone can help:

If possible, we ask that you consider adopting a new pet from the shelter or one of our partners who have rescued animals from the shelter. Residents of Alachua County should ensure that their dogs and cats are properly licensed and wear their tags so that they can be easily returned in the event they do stray from home.

Consider spaying or neutering animals to help eliminate the tremendous pet overpopulation problem we experience. Low-cost (and in some cases no-cost) spay/neuter vouchers are available at the animal shelter or through the Alachua County Humane Society.

Confine and restrain all animals according to county ordinance to reduce the possibility of straying that results in unintended mating and the possibility of the animal being impounded at the shelter. If your animal is missing, please come to the shelter frequently to try to reclaim the animal.

I am approaching my one-year anniversary of being hired as Animal Services director and have recently spent some time reflecting on what I have learned in my time here. First and foremost, I have witnessed the extraordinary character and commitment of the people of Alachua County, particularly of the community of people involved in pet rescue. It has been deeply gratifying to see the tireless efforts of those individuals and organizations who work so diligently to save the lives of our adoptable pets.

As we approach the upcoming year, all of us at Alachua County Animal Services look forward to making advances in how we do what we do. We want to work smarter, refine our systems and processes, communicate better and more effectively marshal and rally the energies of all of those who have a place in their hearts for our animal friends.

Ray Sim is Alachua County Animal Services director.

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