Now that Manatee County has had success with its no kill efforts, officials in nearby counties like Hillsborough and even Sarasota are ready to find out how the program works and whether they can adopt the effort in their counties.
The successes shared here help to prompt Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson on Tuesday to ask Manatee County for information, costs and statistics on its no kill efforts and to get the county to investigate whether it could save Sarasota money and provide adoptable animals for Sarasota County residents.
The story of Manatee County's No Kill efforts can be illustrated through a single dog. The dog was captured by an Animal Control Officer, but never spent a day in county faculties, wasn't caged and didn't cost the county anything beyond the time it took the officer to go out and catch the dog.
Skip was a stray dog running loose in Bradenton just over a month ago. Some folks in the east Bradenton neighborhood where he was running called Animal Services to say they had been trying to catch an injured dog and needed help.
Steve Bell, a road patrol officer with Animal Services, answered the call. He spotted Skip right away and noticed that the small dog's eye was badly injured. He coaxed the dog close enough to get a leash on him and immediately took him to the nearest Animal emergency clinic.
"He was scared and hurt and wanted to be helped," Bell said. The officer is known for his compassion and resourcefulness, said Joel Richmond, enforcement supervisor for Manatee County Animal Services.
The eye needed to be removed, so Bell called Sue Kolze with Animal Network to ask if they had money to help with the cost of the surgery. Kolze told Bell to take Skip to where Animal Network has an account.
Beach Veterinary removed Skip's eye and sewed up the socket and Animal Network paid the bill. The rescue group hosts fundraisers and finds donors to help pay for the care of sick and injured animals that come through animal services. Beach Veterinary Clinic helps the non-profit by providing discounts on treatments and surgeries.
But the injured puppy couldn't go to the Animal Shelter; he needed to be someplace where he could be cared for while he recovered. Sue Kolze called Mary Lupe at Safe Haven Animal Rescue who arranged for foster mom Kathy Rimes to take Skip in during his recovery and until he was adopted. Rimes it turns out has cared for several dogs who have lost their eyes to injuries.
Manatee County's foster system means that many of the dogs and cats that are brought into animal services don't spend much time in the facility. Rescue groups find homes for the animals where they are fed and cared for until they can be adopted. The rescue groups take care of the costs and list the animals for adoption on pet finders.
Rimes said when the puppy came to her he was stressed and depressed. He had no visual perspective and was afraid to go far. She named him one-eyed Jack. But after about five days something seemed to click for the puppy and he got it. He was able to move through the house and he was jumping and happy. That's when his name changed from Jack to Skip - because he was so animated and full of himself.
Skip was with Rimes for about three weeks when he got the all clear from the vet. By then he was neutered and had received all of his shots. He was ready to go up on Pet Finders.
At about the same time Michele Kastner was in and mentioned to Sue Kolze that she was finally ready to adopt a puppy. Her dog had died two months earlier. Kastner told Kolze she wanted a dog that she could train to be a therapy dog for the seniors she works with.
Kolze immediately thought of Skip. A small dog with one eye and a sweet disposition, what better ambassador for seniors, she thought? He's not in perfect health, but he doesn't let it get him down.
Kastner met Skip and decided he was perfect. She brought him home and he is in training o be a therapy dog. He's already a social puppy. He loves children and other animals. And he loves attention.
Kastner takes him everywhere and will share his story in a blog on Patch.