The shocking experience that Michael Cox had on his first visit to the Pasco County Animal Services facility is etched in his memory.
“The very first time I toured the shelter, the live release rate was in the 40s,” Cox recalled, during a Pasco County Commission meeting on Jan. 24.
“And, I’ll never forget seeing the sight of the deceased animals that had been euthanized that morning, that were stacked up like cordwood out there. It was a horrible sight.”
That isn’t true anymore.
“Now that they’re 93% (live release rate), it’s just incredible,” said Cox, who was appearing before the county board along with other members of the Friends of Animal Services.
The ‘Friends’ group was honored for its work to support efforts to keep the facility in good condition, to help animals staying there to thrive, and ultimately to support the work that’s done to help them find loving homes.
The nonprofit organization does this in all sorts of ways, according to a resolution adopted by the county board.
Between 2019 through 2022, Friends donated and provided grant funding of $264,500 to Pasco County Animal Services (PCAS).
“This funding helped create the pet enrichment program at the shelter to enhance the quality of life and ease the stress of shelter pets by providing pet toys, training aides, pet treats, and feeding puzzles. Friends also funded two new, fully outfitted dog play yards and many other shelter enhancements including a new Kubota Utility Vehicle and awnings to shade outdoor areas,” the resolution says.
The nonprofit group also invested in veterinary services, funding more than 113 heartworm treatments for heartworm positive dogs, thereby improving the likelihood the pets would be adopted.
And, it “funded new medical equipment including dental equipment, an ultrasound machine, diagnostic equipment, surgical instruments, and post-surgery digital monitors,” according to the resolution.
Plus, it “administered $125,000 in national animal welfare grants to support PCAS’ new public programs including free vaccination clinics for over 700 pets; a pet food pantry and pet boarding vouchers to help people retain their pets during financial hardships brought on by the pandemic; and programs for pet emergency medical procedures and pet sterilization,” the resolution adds.
Commissioner Gary Bradford, who sponsored the resolution, said he was honored to recognize the work that Friends has done.
“I think it’s just absolutely wonderful that we have citizens that will step up to the plate for our dogs and cats … that sometimes fall through the cracks.
“You guys are truly doing what you should be doing and truly making a difference in the quality of life and the fabric of life in our community,” Bradford said.
Commission Chairman Jack Mariano lavished Cox with praise.
“As a commissioner, you were a very strong supporter of animal services, right from the get-go. Never wavered.”
Cox credited the animal services team.
“The real heroes here are your staff. The people that work at Animal Services are the folks that, every day, face those challenges, and do an incredible job. They do a great job out there and our group just supports that,” Cox said.
Darlene Greene, treasurer of the Friends group, expressed her appreciation to the county board for its support of animal services, and to the staff for its tremendous work.
“They (animal services’ staff) make it premiere.
“They are well-known throughout the state and the nation, for the terrific job that they are doing, and also for the training.
“They’re involved in training throughout the United States, and involved in all types of committees, so Pasco County should be very proud of the staff that they have out there,” Greene said.
The volunteer also came to the meeting prepared to drum up additional support for her favorite cause.
“As the treasurer of Friends of Animal Services, it’s always my pleasure to see funds donated by the community come across my desk so that I can go and deposit that money to help the people in Pasco County with the shelter.
“So, as the treasurer, I’d like to give you each a brochure, so you can remember us when you leave here today.
“And, (I would be) happy to deposit your check, as well,” she told commissioners, which elicited laughter in the room.
On a more serious note, she added: “I can’t tell you how happy I am with the citizens of Pasco County because they’re truly the ones who step up and make these donations possible that we give to the shelter. And we give 100% back, because everybody on our board are volunteers.”
Published February 08, 2023