Holmes Beach animal advocate Lisa Williams is pushing forward with her call to Manatee County government to become a no-kill community.
Appalled by the large numbers of shelter animals put to death rather than adopted into homes, Williams, who works at The Islander, first voiced her opinion on the newspaper’s Jan. 19 editorial page.
She called for “powerful, fast change in Manatee County” and for officials to give more than lip service to the issue.
After pointing out that Manatee County Animal Services killed 140 animals in December while complimenting the 10 animals it adopted from a downtown Bradenton storefront, it was Williams who received lip service in a flurry of responses.
Holmes Beach resident Jean Peelen, serving on the county animal services advisory board, wrote that while the number of animals euthanized is horrible, there are more facts that didn’t appear in the guest editorial that people should know.
Peelen wrote, “In December, 235 dogs and 137 cats were picked up by animal services wandering the streets. Sixty-nine dogs and six cats were returned to owners. Forty-eight dogs and 30 cats were transferred to rescue groups. Fifty-seven dogs and 17 cats were adopted.
“Animal services is a small group of under-funded people who are doing what they see to be their best with the deluge of dogs and cats being abandoned by owners,” continued Peelen. “They didn’t create the deluge and they probably cannot, alone, create the solution.”
Peelen added that she’s “all for creating a real no-kill policy in Manatee County.”
Denise Deisier, director of the Humane Society of Manatee County, has long been pushing the county to become a no-kill community and also is willing to work with Williams to lobby for change.
Williams said Gulfshore Animal League also has offered its support.
However, Williams said she met with individuals calling her out for having a “Pollyanna complex” and lacking background, or prior involvement from which to judge the system.
Sue Kolze, the vice president of the Animal Network who has been involved in pet rescues in the community for more than 12 years, also took Williams to task.
Williams maintains adoption fees MCAS charges are prohibitive. She said nonprofit rescue groups are charged $15 to take charge of an animal scheduled to die. Individuals are charged $60 to adopt a cat and $80 to adopt a dog.
Williams believes adoptions should be free.
But Kolze countered that rescue organizations requested the animals be vaccinated, which led to the county commission approving a fee to cover that cost.
Kolze claimed in her e-mails that Manatee County currently abides by a “no-kill of adoptable animals” philosophy.
And, Kolze claimed, “Just because families are willing and wanting does not make them qualified adopters who will give the animals good homes with proper food and veterinary care.”
Kolze said “animals need more [people] who are involved in helping the rescue effort, rather than [people] who sit back and point fingers.”
However, Williams doesn’t see animal advocacy as a hobby. Having spent time working for PETA traveling the country and investigating animal cruelty, she said she intends to be part of the solution.
She said she is working toward setting programs in place that would support the success of a no-kill community.
So, when Kolze and the Animal Network challenged Williams to put up or shut up by adopting the next 10 animals set to be euthanized by MCAS, Williams didn’t hesitate to lead by example.
On Jan. 31, she picked up the cats and dogs and brought them home to stay with the greyhound-shepherd pooch she adopted in Mississippi while volunteering to help animals displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
The Animal Network paid the adoption fees and the pets were spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped.
In two weeks, Williams, found foster family for one of the cats and Pumpkin, the 1 1/2-year-old pit bull mix featured in the Feb. 9 issue of The Islander, was adopted to a home in Ocala.
The “challenge” pets offered by Williams for adoption and an up-to-date list of pets held by animal services and scheduled for disposition — including kill dates – can be found on The Islander website.
Williams said Pumpkin, who was taken in by MCAS on Jan. 26, was scheduled to die Feb. 1 — only one week after intake.
Williams is distributing a “No-Kill Primer” to anyone interested in learning more about a no-kill community. She also is circulating a petition calling for the animal services to cease killing animals.
“Other communities have done it, and it is time for Manatee County to make the change,” she said.
Kolze also challenged Williams to name any community where taxpayers support a no-kill community.
Next week: More on Williams’ “challenge pets,” no-kill communities and local solutions.
Sign the petition
To sign Lisa William’s petition for a no-kill solution in Manatee County, go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/nokillmanateecounty/, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up on facebook at Make Manatee County No Kill.
For more information on adopting one of her “challenge” pets, call Williams at 941-345-2441 or e-mail email@example.com.