Animal welfare groups performed a community service by recently expressing their support for Hillsborough County's effort to save more dogs and cats at the animal shelter. This display of confidence by those involved in animal welfare should help build the sustained, team effort necessary for this worthwhile project to succeed.
County commissioners adopted a new strategy in May to reduce the kill rate for animals at the shelter by working harder to find them a home. The shelter has extended hold times in an effort to get more animals adopted, and it is working to create a healthier population of dogs and cats so that animals once destined to be euthanized now have a second chance to be placed with new owners.
As with any new program, this effort has had its problems. The number of animals brought to the shelter increased, which created crowded conditions and reports of some increase in illnesses. The county is working with academic advisers and veterinarians to address the backlog in medical procedures. It is retraining staff to change the focus from warehousing animals to placing them in new homes. And workers are remodeling the shelter to better accommodate more animals and process more adoptions.
This new approach reflects a wholesale change in thinking, and it will take the county time to perfect the process. But the show of support from the Humane Society and other groups is a timely shot of confidence. The commission should ensure the Animal Services Department has the resources it needs to remain on track in reducing the number of animals that are needlessly put to death.