Don't be absurd: No-kill shelters are beneficial for animals


Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:41 p.m.

The Sun chose to print Daphna Nachminovitch's column on April 23 with the flamboyant headline, “No-kill shelters aren't beneficial for animals.” That is, of course, absurd, especially for the tens of thousands of companion animals that were not euthanized in our public shelter in the last decade.

These animals found “forever homes” through the dedication of numerous non-profit fostering and adoption agencies, and they may have been sterilized at Operation PetSnip's low-cost, high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter clinic. Alachua County has enjoyed exceptional support from philanthropic foundations and pet-related businesses. As a result, Alachua County is making steady progress toward becoming the first southern community where no healthy or treatable animals are euthanized. But don't take our word for it — here are some figures:

-- In 2002, the Alachua County Animal Shelter euthanized 8062 dogs and cats.

-- This was also the year that Maddie's Fund selected our community to receive millions of dollars in support of our goal to become “no kill.” The county and selected non-profits developed a detailed plan to maximize cooperation allowing for each organization to perfect its specific function in the community to find homes for unwanted pets.

-- In 2012, the county euthanized 1,084 homeless pets, an 87 percent reduction in deaths.

-- In 2013 so far, the rate of euthanasia is half of what it was last year. Alachua County is now at a 94 percent live animal release rate from the shelter. Our trajectory is to become a community in which no animal is killed due to pet overpopulation in the near future.

Daphna Nachminovitch stated in her column, “The key is to stop the flow of homeless animals at its source, by spaying and neutering. Together, we can make our communities no-kill the right way — by first making them ‘no-birth.' ”

We agree and since beginning our spay/neutering operation in October 2009, Operation PetSnip has sterilized more than 15,000 pets. The pioneering program Operation Catnip, using mostly volunteers, has neutered 35,000 feral cats which reduces their numbers and impact on wildlife populations.

Despite the hard work of the past decade, the toughest animals to adopt — those with treatable medical issues, correctable behavioral issues, or even that blind, one-eared, three-legged mutt named Lucky — are the challenges we are working on now. Just watch graduation day at Paws on Parole, where inmates have socialized the most incorrigible dogs into wonderful pets. This illustrates the power and beauty of redemption and restoration of a previously unadoptable animal into a highly sought after pet as an alternative to the sad ending via lethal injection.

Alachua County is close to achieving something worthy. Inspiring so many people to work together positively toward the attainable goal of becoming a no-kill community. The citizens of Alachua County will have an opportunity to help find homes for every shelter animal June 1-2 during the Maddie's adoption event. Every animal placed up for adoption will be adopted at no cost to the future owner. The rescue groups offering animals for adoption including the Alachua County Animal Shelter are Alachua County Humane Society, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Helping Hands, Hailes Angels Pet Rescue, Operation Catnip and Puppy Hill Farm. The website is http://adopt.maddiesfund.org/.

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Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson serves on the boards of No More Homeless Pets Inc. and the Wagmore Foundation. Sandi Richmond is executive director of No More Homeless Pets and Operation PetSnip. Jeannette Peters is Maddie's Project coordinator for Alachua County. Gladys Cofrin is president of No More Homeless Pets and the Wagmore Foundation.

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