ASPCA Dissolves Partnership with Tallahassee Animal Shelter

'Grumpy cat' Photo: CBS News

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 11, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - An organization that teamed up with the Leon County Animal Shelter to increase adoption and decrease the number of animals euthanized is now dissolving that relationship.

The American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals, known as the ASPCA, is dropping the shelter as a partner.

WCTV was there back in September of 2011 when the ASPCA made the announcement in front of City Hall to partner with the Leon County Animal Shelter.

It was a big deal for the shelter because it meant guidance and financial support.

Less than two years later, the national organization has now decided to sever that relationship.

The director of the Leon County Animal Shelter says they take in about four thousand cats a year.

That, the director says, is one of the biggest issues they have.

The ASPCA also has an issue with it. The national organization is severing its partnership with the shelter. It cites that there were no policy changes to become more community cat friendly.

The shelter director, Erika Leckington, says, "Community cats. Those are cats that are living on the fringes, the wild cats, they're feral cats, people feed them, they don't necessarily claim ownership to them. So, we need a comprehensive program to tackle these animals reproducing in our community."

Administrators say the biggest concerns the ASPCA had in moving forward were the following:

o No bricks and mortar high volume low/no cost spay & neuter clinic
§ currently there is no organization in Tallahassee pursuing this (Be the Solution has decided to remain a voucher based program)
§ it is a crucial piece in achieving a high live release rate and the ASPCA feels that Tallahassee will never be able to make the strides it needs to without this resource so it’s not advantageous to keep funding programs in this community when spay/neuter is a key part of the solution

o Lack of initiative, communication and cooperation among the partners in focusing on the animals in Animal Services’ care
§ Both Leon County Animal Control and Leon County Humane Society had a change of directors after the first year in the partnership (and LCHS didn’t have a director for 6 months)
§ Neither organization applied for grants for the second year in the partnership and therefore didn’t have a money-associated role

o No Cooperative change of philosophy regarding Community Cats
§ After over a year of Leon County Animal Control facilitating a “Feral Cat Work Group” working towards a cat-friendly ordinance change, they decided not to change their laws or policies to become more community cat friendly
§ Animal Services developed a pilot community cat program, has changed policies related to nuisance cat trapping and will be pursuing ordinance changes to be more community cat friendly
§ Leon County Animal Control brings in the vast majority of trapped cats to Animal Services so its difficult at best to make improvements to the live release rate of cats if they continue to follow antiquated practices

Leckington says for 2012 and 2013, the ASPCA gave the shelter more than $300,000. They say not having the partnership will mean less money to support things such as positions at the shelter.

Tallahassee resident Krystal Vester says, "It's sad. Everybody I know loves the shelter to get a pet because we all have a heart to help out. They do a great job."

Leckington says without the partnership, they're going to see a higher intake at the shelter, saying they're absolutely overwhelmed right now. She says they've taken in more than 300 animals just in the first eight days of this month.

You can help by spay or neutering your pet or adopting a pet from the shelter, just Call 850-891-2950.

Full ASPCA Statement on Tallahassee

The ASPCA Partnership is designed to be a year-by-year program, customized for each community. Each partnership has its own unique structure and duration, with partnerships running anywhere from one to several years. The ASPCA has an obligation to make sure our resources are maximized and grant recipients are implementing the most effective solutions to save as many lives as possible. After evaluating the data and other factors, we determined that the key ingredients to creating sustainable increases in community-wide live release rates-collaboration among the partner agencies; a high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter model; and support for community cat initiatives-weren't coming together. We needed to adjust and shift our strategy and will be supporting the community in other ways.

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