Lisa Williams, a Holmes Beach resident advocating for Manatee County to adopt a no-kill policy for its animal services department, took steps to have her voice heard by the Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board.
In addition to board members and representatives of area animal rescue groups, the meeting also was attended by Islander publisher Bonner Joy, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and county public safety director Bill Hutchison.
Having just finished finding adoptive homes for nine pets rescued from death at Manatee County Animal Services, Williams, who works for The Islander, is interested in raising awareness and motivating commissioners to stop euthanizing homeless and abandoned pets.
Williams attended the meeting with the hope of opening a dialogue on her push for a no-kill community — a community in which all savable animals are eventually placed into permanent homes. She was allowed five minutes to speak under public comment.
The board congratulated Williams on her ability to effectively find homes for the pets she rescued and asked her to suggest ideas rescue groups could use to get more animals out of shelters and adopted.
“My first recommendation was to take killing off the table,” said Williams. “Then you work toward more adoptions, getting more foster families, more volunteers to care for shelter pets and you build more kennels.”
Williams said she faced more questions about how to realistically achieve those goals. “Raising public awareness and advertising is a good place to start,” said Williams. “You have to let people see what is happening to make them aware of the need for adoptive families and volunteers.
“And if killing is off the table, more people might be excited about volunteering.”
Williams was recently asked to rescue a pit bull and find it a new home, but she had to decline due to restrictions in her lease agreement.
However, she has stepped up to the plate to provide support in raising awareness and advertising the pets currently sheltered by animal services.
“If you want to increase adoptions,” said Williams, “then you need to showcase those pets in as many places as possible for them to have a better chance for adoption.”
According to Williams there are plenty of avenues through which to advertise adoptable pets: newspaper classified ads, Facebook, Oodle.com, bradentondog.com and Bay News 9, which features a shelter pet daily.
Williams has begun sharing the pet profiles of adoptable animals listed on the MCAS website with other online resources. She noted that Bradentondog.com is a new site where adoptable dogs are featured along with many valuable community resources for dog owners. It’s just one of the many free online resources she is utilizing.
Williams believes when the county takes better advantage of social media tools, such as Facebook, that they will see an increase in adoptions.
At the close of public comment, Williams didn’t feel as encouraged as she’d hoped.
Cindy Morton, a volunteer with the Lakewood Ranch Humane Society, followed up with a suggestion for the advisory board to read Nathan Winograd’s “No-Kill Primer,” which Williams hopes the board will do.
In the meantime, Williams plans to make a no-kill presentation to the advisory board at its April meeting.