SPCA Tampa Bay Unveils Comprehensive, Coordinated Approach to Combat Pet Homelessness

Largo, FL, March 30, 2013 --(PR.com)-- SPCA Tampa Bay leaders have announced Community Animal Connections, a unified series of key initiatives beginning in 2013 aimed at keeping pets with their families and getting lost pets back to their homes. This comprehensive, coordinated approach will improve the quality of life and outlook for all animals in the Tampa Bay community, and especially the tens of thousands of pets facing homelessness each year.

There are four key components in the new strategy: opening a general practice veterinary clinic coupled with various payment options and high volume spay/neuter; changing to appointment-based admissions to counsel owners before they arrive at the Largo facility; developing a centralized system for owners seeking lost pets; and, creating better solutions for special segments of the Pinellas County animal community: wildlife, livestock and exotic species.

“The 2013 goals we’ve announced today build on the partnership we have established with Pinellas County Animal Services, the Humane Society of Pinellas and other animal agencies in our community,” stated Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay. “We are targeting two key metrics: the number of animals coming into local shelters and the amount of time (length of stay) those animals spend at local shelters. We know we can reduce both through thoughtful implementation of successful programs already in place across the country.”

Veterinary care coupled with various payment options and high volume spay/neuter is a focal point in SPCA’s plan. The organization intends to open a clinic in St Petersburg, and is exploring various partnership opportunities.

“It’s heart-wrenching when someone turns in a loved animal simply because they cannot afford veterinary care,” stated Boden. “Many owners care deeply for their pets and want to keep them, but their family budget can’t handle an unexpected veterinary bill. Animal shelters in Florida and elsewhere are finding ways to offer veterinary services and payment plans that allow animals to stay in their loving homes.”

To give pet-owning families even more support, beginning April 30, SPCA will change its animal admission process to an appointment-based model that includes a phone call with pet owners before they arrive at SPCA. This intake process is in practice at many organizations in our community and across the country.

“We’ll continue to admit animals six days a week,” said Boden. “The primary difference is that we’ll be able to give the owners more attention, and even some alternatives to bringing their pets to the shelter if they would like to consider options. We won’t turn any pet away if an owner feels bringing the animal to us is the best option. Based on our past intake statistics, owners should have to wait no more than one week to get an appointment. We’ll also increase the number of adoptable animals we transfer in each week from local organizations.”

Creating a task force to simplify the lost pet-owner reunification process is another key in the new approach.

“Anyone who has experienced the heartbreak and anxiety of losing a loved animal knows the process can be confusing,” stated Boden. “Currently owners must search multiple shelters, websites and hotlines to see if anyone has picked up or turned in their animal. There’s no centralized system to help determine where a lost pet might be. We want to change that.”

Finally, SPCA is hosting a series of summit meetings to find better solutions for special segments of the Pinellas animal community: wildlife, livestock and exotic animals. Local shelters have seen a significant increase in admission of these types of animals but none of the facilities are truly equipped to handle their special needs. By engaging all those interested in a discussion about the requirements of these animals, SPCA hopes to determine what needs must be covered and which groups are best suited to assist animals in distress. Interested parties can email Info@SPCATampaBay.org for more information. The summit meetings and 2013 initiatives that will begin April 30 are also listed at www.SPCATampaBay.org

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SPCA Tampa Bay has been at the forefront of humane care since its beginnings in 1940. SPCA’s mission is to be the leader in animal advocacy by preventing cruelty, promoting humane care and reducing pet overpopulation. SPCA services for the community include animal cruelty investigation, lost/found pet assistance, animal admission and pet cremation assistance, pet adoption, ambulance transport for sick/injured strays and estate planning with pets in mind. Located on ten acres in Largo, FL, SPCA programs include a free pet behavior helpline service; canine training, cat and critter care workshops through its Sniff University; and, children’s summer camps and birthday parties. Visit www.SPCATampaBay.org for more information.
SPCA Tampa Bay
Nora Hawkins
(727) 420-0475