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New chamber hears Pasco animal shelter near no-kill goal

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Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2014 at 05:21 PM

TRINITY — Cultural change has led many shelters to save as many dogs and cats as possible, Pasco Animal Services Manager Mike Shumate told his Trinity-Odessa Chamber of Commerce audience Wednesday.

The first event staged by the fledgling organization had 80 reservations, Executive Director Dan Sullivan reported.

Shumate asked for a show of hands from dog and cat owners, which was the majority of the crowd. Pasco estimates about 171,000 dogs in the county and 142,000 cats. Those figures don’t include feral cats, Shumate cautioned.

“We have four-legged kids,” Michael Cox, the first board chairman of the new chamber, said with a chuckle. He and wife Abby treat their two dogs, Mason and Cooper, as their children.

Cox led the project for Friends of Animal Services to set up a Pasco mobile pet adoption van that went into service a few months ago.

Pasco Animal Services has adopted a Save 90 Percent initiative, County Commissioner Pat Mulieri stressed.

In 2010, nearly three-fourths of the 9,371 animals taken to the shelter were euthanized, Shumate observed.

“That’s pretty sad,” Shumate commented about the grim statistics four years ago.

By last year, however, about 30 percent of 5,021 animals were put down. Early results during 2014 show the shelter approaching its goal of 90 percent saved.

Programs to teach responsible pet ownership helped reduce the total number of pets going through the shelter, Shumate noted. The agency also opened its new adoption center in 2011.

Spay-neuter rebates have helped. A partnership with Spay Pasco has recruited 17 veterinary clinics. The trap-neuter-return program for feral cats is reducing pet overpopulation and saving money for the county agency.

The county agency must accept all animals brought to its shelter in Land O’ Lakes, Shumate pointed out. Other shelters can refuse to accept animals. Sometimes the county shelter receives animals that might be seriously ill or badly injured and close to death. Staff can only make them comfortable as possible.

“We’re not getting any cute little Chihuahuas,” Shumate commented.

Mulieri begged to differ, saying she took home four Chihuahuas from the shelter. The breed of dog often is the last to be adopted, Mulieri observed.

“A shelter is the worst place for an animal,” Shumate //said// during the breakfast program. Pet owners should regard it as a last resort, he urged.

The many tasks of the Pasco agency is a tall order for 33 employees, Shumate noted.

Shortly after Shumate took the job at the shelter, the agency faced two animal hoarding cases.

Also, Pasco residents bitten by animals is on the rise. Animal services handled 1,244 bite cases in 2010 and 1,308 cases last year.

corth@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1068(727) 815-1068

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