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Rescue Me Tampa

Next steps for the shelter?

Fans for the unbearably hot kennels. Almost all of the kennels where the dogs are housed have no air conditioning. In the Florida summer heat and humidity, many of the dogs were lying down, panting, lethargic. The volunteers working to photograph the dogs so that they could be networked were sweating profusely. There is only one large fan for a whole wing of dogs, and small overhead fans for the aisles which are basically useless, and some of which aren’t in working condition. One large, handsome German shepherd must have been horribly uncomfortable in the humid air with no hint of a breeze at his end of the kennel. (Local businesses have been contacted to see if they will donate large fans to the shelter to help with this problem. It’s to be hoped that soon the dogs will be more comfortable with more fans available. Update will be posted.)

While the lobby was lovely, there was no information about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Nor was there information about low-cost spaying and neutering services. Spaying and neutering is a vital part of getting the homeless animal problem under control. Yet this shelter doesn’t seem to inform the public about this at all. A Florida rescuer pointed out that usually, when spaying/neutering a dog, the shelter will require a rabies vaccine — which is great — but which also requires that the owner fill out a certificate with an address. Undocumented and homeless people do not want to do this or cannot do this. That means that their pets remain intact instead of being sterilized, thus contributing to the overpopulation problem. Is there a way around this? Shelters need to think of creative solutions to this problem.

A huge help in finding rescue and adopters for the shelter dogs has historically been the Rescue Me Tampa (RMT) volunteers and their Facebook page. Now, however, the shelter has installed new software for tracking dogs and keeping information. The volunteers used to have a volunteer login to the software so they could see which dogs were urgent (on the euthanasia list), which dogs were healthy or heartworm positive, which dogs got along with other dogs in playgroup. That information is vital in order that RMT be able to network the dogs with the correct information they need to share. The shelter needs to find a way to get volunteers this important information. Without it, they simply can’t be effective at saving dogs.

Working together with volunteers, Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center has shown that they can help as many animals as possible. This shelter management also appears to be more accepting of critical comments than many other shelters. At least one Florida shelter fires volunteers who point out that dogs are killed for space or who are at all critical about shelter policies.

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