[UPDATE] Tallahassee -- September 15, 2011
Animal Advocates say millions of animals end up homeless or euthanized each year.
But, a national organization has teamed up with local leaders to keep that from happening.
The ASPCA says three to four million animals are euthanized every year in our country. They say that's better than the 20 million it used to be back in the 1970's; but, say there's still a problem.
Someone found Abby aimlessly walking down the street and took her to the Leon County Animal Shelter when she was just four weeks old.
She was fostered out, and now at five and a half months old, the blond Lab Mix has an adopted home.
Founder and President of "Be the Solution, Inc." Gerry Phipps says, "That's where most of my dogs or all of my dogs and cats have come from. I find them stray, homeless, they show up. It breaks my heart."
The ASPCA, or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is partnering with organizations in Leon County to increase adoptions and decrease euthanasia.
Erika Leckington with the Tallahassee-Leon Animal Shelter says, "If we can find those homes of those missing animals, that's ideal, so that we can reclaim more animals back into their loving homes."
Leckington says almost 10,000 animals come through the local animal shelter every year. About half of those are put down.
Phipps says, "It's heartbreaking. They're like small children to me and to see them suffer is needlessly."
The ASPCA says pet owners can help by spaying and neutering their pets. Officials say every animal that's not spayed or neutered, has the potential to create thousands of unwanted animals.
Pet owners are also urged to have I.D. tags, rabies tags, and a micro chip for their pets.
Leon County is one of ten communities nationwide in a partnership with ASPCA.
NEW YORK— September 15, 2011 -
The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today officially kicked off its partnership in Leon County, Fla.–one of 10 communities nationwide currently working with the ASPCA to provide positive outcomes for at-risk and homeless pets.
The ASPCA Partnership features collaboration among the following Tallahassee-area animal welfare agencies: Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center (or TLCASC, a city-run and operated shelter); Leon County Animal Control Division (or LCAC, which conducts field services, including cruelty and disaster response in Leon County); the Leon County Humane Society (or LCHS, a local non-profit pet adoption and advocacy organization); and Be The Solution, Inc. (or BTS, a local non-profit spay/neuter group).
“We know we are going to see some incredible things from the Tallahassee community and this partnership,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “The community already has demonstrated a great zeal for helping local pets find homes, as was evident during TLCASC’s participation in the 2010 ASPCA $100K Challenge where the shelter won the ‘Community Engagement’ award. We have every confidence that, as they join forces, the partner agencies will save even more lives through increased collaboration.”
“We are excited and very eager to begin our work as an ASPCA Partner Community,” said Erika Leckington, executive director of TLCASC. “We know that working together will ultimately help us increase our adoption numbers, return more lost pets to their owners, transfer more animals to agencies where adoption is guaranteed, and perform more targeted spay/neuter surgeries, thereby decreasing the euthanasia rate of our shelter pets.”
“Leon County Animal Control’s field work accounts for 40 percent of the animals brought into TLCASC. We know that the partnership will raise awareness of all the animal welfare issues facing our community, so perhaps in addition to increasing things like adoptions and spay/neuter, the increased awareness also can help to decrease incidents of cruelty and neglect,” said Richard Ziegler, director of LCAC.
“We’re all bringing unique assets to the partnership, and working with the ASPCA can only enhance our capabilities. By building on the strong relationships which already exist, we hope to make tremendous progress for the animals of our community,” said Sonya White, executive director of LCHS.
"We hope this collaborative effort will bring even more attention to our work to provide spay/neuter vouchers to those in need in order to reduce pet overpopulation. By working together with the ASPCA, LCHS, TLCASC, and LCAC, we know we can make a positive impact on the community," said Gerry Phipps, founder and president of BTS.
Last year, approximately 10,000 homeless animals entered the Leon County partner agencies. In addition to overcrowding in its shelters, some of the other challenges that Leon County faces include the need for more lost animals to be reunited with their owners, an increase in targeted spay/neuter, and an increase in pet adoption.
“Homelessness is the number one risk factor for companion animals in the United States,” added Mr. Sayres. “We have proof that collaborative relationships within a community can work and believe that our partnership in Tallahassee will enable our partners to save even more animals."
Since 2007, the ASPCA has been lending its support, financially and through training and other human resources, to communities around the country with the goal of helping them save more animals. The ASPCA’s work focuses a collective effort on sustainable, data-driven plans and programs that engage the community in providing positive outcomes for these animals. The ASPCA’s investment in these partnerships—in the form of direct grants, capacity-building, training, ASPCA staff expertise, and strategic planning—varies from a one- to five-year period to address homeless animal issues in each community.
Since the ASPCA began its Partner Community program in 2007, hundreds of thousands of animals have been adopted, returned to owners, transferred to other agencies where adoption is guaranteed or spay/neutered as a result of the exceptional collaboration among partner agencies in each community.
In addition to Leon County, Fla., the ASPCA’s Partner Communities are Austin, Texas; Buncombe County, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Cleveland, Ohio; Miami-Dade County, Fla., Oklahoma City, Okla.; Sacramento, Calif.; Shelby County, Ala.; and Spokane, Wash.