Grants aimed at curbing city’s pet overpopulation

November 10th, 2011

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Grants aimed at curbing city’s pet overpopulation

Three local organizations benefit from PetSmart Charities.

Carmen Forman

November 9th, 2011

Through its People Saving Pets program, PetSmart Charities granted more than $338,000 to three Oklahoma City animal-welfare organizations — the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, the City of Oklahoma City’s Animal Welfare Division and The Bella Foundation — to improve programs aimed at curbing pet overpopulation.

dog
The Bella Foundation, an OKC-based nonprofit, received $11,500 to buy a van to ferry more pets to and from adoption events and veterinary appointments.

Eric McCune, Bella president and co-founder, said the van has increased the number of pet adoptions on an average Saturday of about eight on to 22.

“It acts like a mobile billboard,” McCune said. “We’ve seen an increase in website traffic, Facebook usage, emails asking us about dogs we have for adoption, and it’s all because someone has seen the van.”

The new van has got people asking about The Bella Foundation, and is increasing the number of volunteers and foster families, McCune said.

“Anytime you can go someplace and do 18 adoptions in one day is amazing, because that means there are 18 more spaces for animals at the shelter that can come into our programs to find homes,” McCune said.

WIDENED OPPORTUNITIES
The People Saving Pets program was started in February in an effort to stop more than 4 million pets being euthanized each year, said Susana Della Maddalena, PetSmart Charities vice president and executive director.

Oklahoma City was chosen as one of the two launch cities for the program, because PetSmart Charities was impressed with the collaboration between the city’s animal-welfare organizations.

“First, we need to find homes for as many as we can, and then we really need to promote spay and neuter to reduce the number of unwanted pets coming into shelters,” Maddalena said.

People Saving Pets awarded a grant of $104,000 to pay for a volunteer coordinator and an adoption coordinator at Oklahoma City’s Animal Welfare Division. These two new positions will allow to recruit more volunteers and foster-care families.

The Central Oklahoma Humane Society was awarded $222,550 for a number of new programs, including hiring a foster-care coordinator for two years. The money also will allow the division to hire a feral-cat coordinator and subsidize spay-and-neuter surgeries.

“If we could just get the majority of our population to do that, we wouldn’t be having the overpopulation crisis we’re having,” said Christy Counts, Humane Society president. “So it’s of critical importance to get people to spay and neuter their pets.”

Because the launch of the People Saving Pets program seems to be successful in Oklahoma City and Phoenix, the organization plans to take the program to Cleveland and Charleston, S.C., next year, Maddalena said.

“It’s not about your pets or my pets; it’s about the community’s pets,” she said.

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