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Pinellas pet adoptions increased in 2014, animal advocates say

Published Mar. 7, 2015

LARGO — The county's four largest shelters took in almost 4,000 fewer animals last year than they did three years ago, according to figures released Friday.

At the same time, those shelters have seen a slight uptick of about 2 percent overall in the number of animals adopted. That meant about 1,500 fewer animals were euthanized in 2014 because they had no homes than were in 2012.

"That's a pretty significant drop," said Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay.

The SPCA, Pinellas County Animal Services, the Humane Society of Pinellas and Pet Pal Animal Shelter formed Pinellas Pet Partners three years ago to work together to find solutions to the pet overpopulation problem in Pinellas. Part of that initiative was pooling data from all four agencies as a way to track trends in the homeless pet population. Friends of Strays announced Friday that it will join the coalition. Statistics from Friends of Strays were not included in the information released Friday. The Humane Society, Pet Pal and Friends of Strays are all no-kill shelters.

When the four first started pooling data in 2012, a total of 27,363 animals had come through their doors. Of those, 10,119 were dogs; 14,663 were cats; and 2,581 were other types of animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and injured wildlife. Last year, the overall total had dropped to 23,613. Dogs accounted for 8,300 of those; cats, 12,522; and other species, 2,791.

Sarah Brown, humane society executive director, said several factors could account for the drop in the number of cats and dogs entering the four shelters. Among those are more fostering programs by rescue groups, more access to lower-cost spaying and neutering, and more efforts by the shelters in finding ways to keep animals in their homes rather than having them abandoned.

Boden said the increase in "other" species is a reflection of the number of injured wildlife that the four agencies are seeing. Wildlife rescue is a small, specialized niche, she said. In recent years, some of Pinellas' wildlife rescues have closed or cut back services because of money or other woes. With no other place to go, people have started bringing injured wildlife to the shelters.

As the number of cats and dogs entering the shelters has gone down, adoptions of cats has gone up by about 12 percent from 5,728 in 2012 to 6,416 in 2014. Not so dogs. For them, the adoption rate has declined about 11 percent from 4,186 in 2012 to 3,744 last year. It's unclear why.

Contact Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.