Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Lee County Domestic Animal Services Receives Prestigious Harvard “Bright Ideas” Award
LCDAS was one of 111 recipients selected to receive this prestigious award out of over 600 entries nationwide. The agency was chosen because of its proactive programs aimed at reducing taxpayer expenses, pet overpopulation, shelter intake, and euthanasia. Numerous programs and initiatives contributed to the success. Among them were the Community Pet Pantry, Trap, Neuter and Return for feral cats, no-cost public assistance pet sterilization and veterinary care through the Animal Care Trust Fund, and low-cost microchip ID clinics to return more pets to their owners. These programs are not funded by tax dollars but by pet licensing revenues and private donations.
The programs were implemented in March 2009 when Lee County suffered a high rate of foreclosures and job loss. Consequently, LCDAS experienced a significant increase in shelter intake. “It was heartbreaking to see pet owners distraught about surrendering their pets because they couldn’t afford to provide food or veterinary care. We needed to do something to keep these pets in their homes rather than surrendered to an already overcrowded shelter,” states Director Donna Ward. As a result of the programs animal intake declined by 36% and euthanasia rates declined by 56%.
Ward hopes that other government animal control and non-profit humane societies will consider similar programs that have proven successful in saving lives while also improving the image and reputation of their shelter which leads to greater community support. “These programs are a testament to what we can accomplish without the use of tax dollars. While I’m proud to have received the Bright Ideas Award, I’m even more proud to be part of such a caring community and an incredibly hard-working and dedicated shelter,” states Ms. Ward.