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There’s a network of people in the Ozarks dedicated to saving animals from being put to sleep, and their hard work is paying off. KSMU’s Shane Franklin recently visited the Springfield Animal Shelter and has this story.
Angela Foster, an animal control agent with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, says over the last ten years, she’s seen things completely change at the Springfield Animal Shelter. After the shelter ended its relationship with the Springfield Humane Society, rates for euthanizing animals at the facility were approaching 100 percent.
Now, only 12 percent of the dogs at the shelter are euthanized, and staff members haven’t had to put down an adoptable dog in over 22 months. This isn’t because the problem with stray dogs and cats in Greene County has ended; far from it, in fact, says Heather Ferrier, another officer at the shelter.
On a busy day, she may see as many as 12 new dogs come in.
“We’re not really allowed to turn away dogs, so even if were full and people bring in stray dogs, we still have to take them. At that point, the dogs that have been here longest, the rescue has to come in right away or we’re faced with having to euthanize them, because we have to be able to bring dogs in. Luckily we haven’t had to do that in a long time. Rescue has just been fantastic getting animals out of here,” said Ferrier.
These rescues come with a price, though. Specifically, that price comes in the form of an $8 “pull fee,” which is what the shelter charges people when they pick up an animal. The pull fee helps pay for microchipping, a variety of vaccinations, worming, and grooming. Ferrier says the pull fee only covers a portion of those expenses.
To enlist the help of the community, the Health Department is launching the “Get Em Out” campaign aimed at paying the pull fees for 700 dogs or cats, which is roughly how many animals the Halfway Home sees each year.
Latisha Duffey runs Halfway Home in Collins, Missouri.
“Eight dollars doesn’t seem like much but to all of the rescues, not just mine, myself, CARE and the other 200 rescue partners that have teamed up to help Springfield dogs, eight dollars doesn’t seem like much but eight dollars can truly help save lives,” said Duffey.
Here’s how it works: Halfway Home picks up dogs from the Springfield Animal Shelter a couple of times a week. After the dogs are picked up, they’re vetted to ensure they’re adoptable. All dogs are spayed or neutered and medicated for a range of parasites, costing Halfway Home around $150 for each animal.
Once they’re ready, the dogs are sent out of state, to areas like New York and Pennsylvania, where mandatory spay and neuter laws are in place. Duffey says because of those laws, many states don’t have an issue with an overpopulation of stray animals.
In addition to saving hundreds of dogs a year from being euthanized, Halfway Home sponsors what it call “Paw it Forward,” a reunification program where, in special cases, Halfway Home helps pay for animals to be returned to their owners instead of being sent out or euthanized.
Duffey says hers is first organization she knows of to have such a program, but she’d like to see it catch on. She says it’s always best to see an animal and its owner reunited.
Halfway Home relies mainly on donations and support from the community.
Pet owners with low income can find additional assistance in having thier animal spayed or neutered through the Animalkind program or SAAF , the Springfield Animal Advocacy Foundation.