The Humane Society of Escambia County (HSEC) is bringing to the area a program that should result in more adoptions of healthier homeless animals in the county.
A grant program of Maddie's Fund called Community Collaboration is planned to begin July 1, allowing HSEC to prepare animals for adoption by arranging their veterinary care and having them spayed or neutered.
Before that point, HSEC must comply with Maddie's Fund guidelines by providing 2003 statistics from the Brewton Animal Shelter and Atmore Animal Shelter. Brewton and Atmore have agreed to provide those numbers and to allow HSEC to take animals from the shelters as part of the program.
"The (Brewton City) Council giving us approval to release animals to us was a big thing," said HSEC vice president Renee Jones. "We can go in, choose animals, take them for shots and to be spayed and neutered."
Some of the benefits to be seen by the Brewton Animal Shelter as a result of this collaboration include a new computer, a washing machine, training for Animal Control Officer Philip Crenshaw and new wooden benches in the kennels.
But the primary purpose of the program will be to increase the number of adoptions of healthy animals and reduce the number that have to be euthanized, Jones said.
"It's a great opportunity," she said. "We're really excited."
HSEC is hoping to organize monthly off-site adoption events to find homes for the animals in their care. HSEC will also be present with animals who need homes at events like the Blueberry Festival and Atmore's Mayfest.
As the number of animals waiting for adoption through the program grows, HSEC will be recruiting foster families to house and care for animals between the time they are medically treated and adopted.
Maddie's Fund has been working for Alabama pets already in the form of the "Big Fix" – a program to spay and neuter the pets of low-income residents. The program allows those in need to have their pets spayed or neutered for a very low fee.
"You shouldn't have to be a multi-millionaire to have a few animals and house them," Jones said.
HSEC is also planning a "spay week" from April 12 to 16. During that week, area veterinarians John Bagwell, William Thompson, Hank Lee, Lacey Lee and Tommy Moore have agreed to offer a 10 percent discount on spaying and neutering. HSEC will also contribute another $10 toward the first 10 spaying and neutering appointments made at each clinic for that week.
HSEC meets monthly in the timber offices of Smurfit-Stone Corporation and its next meeting will be April 13. Anyone interested in becoming a member or volunteering is welcome.