I took all of these pictures while visiting Hillsborough County Animal Services last weekend. It was my first time in an animal shelter in several years, and it affected me deeply. I spent a lot of time in the dog rooms and my heart melted and broke after each and every visit to each cage. The dogs that stole the most of my heart were the pitbull mixes. They leaned up against the bars of their cages so they could get scratched and pet. One stuck her paws out from under the cage door so I could play with her toes. They didn't bark or growl or jump. You could see nothing but love in their eyes. Amazing how people have given pits such a bad name.
I still can't shake the image of the small boxer who was so scared and nervous that his whole body was visibly trembling. Or the beautiful white pitbull whose owner neglected to take care of her, and she had mange all over her body, leaving her looking more red than white. My heart ached when I thought about the fear these dogs were feeling, and for the owners who couldn't find them yet. And then anger thinking about their owners who didn't want to find them, who abandoned them and didn't care, and I felt angry for the time limit on each of these precious creatures.
Save90 is "A newly formed organization that is leading the way to do what we all know is not only the right thing to do, but the right time to do it here in Hillsborough County. It's time to defy the old ideas that killing of stray and abandoned animals is necessary and inevitable. It’s time to defy the gravity of the old beliefs and the status quo that continues year after year. It’s time to stand together to say we have the voices and the votes to make it stop!"
When I first heard about the Save 90 campaign here in Tampa Bay, naturally I was in support of it, but I didn't know where I personally fit into the movement. Before I visited the animal shelter last weekend, I asked my friend Amber, who is deeply involved with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) and helping stray cats, what I - someone who is not nearly as involved as her - could do or would get out of the upcoming Save 90 conference. She said the conference would be great for anyone who wants to help in any way possible, not just people who are already active with shelter pets, etc.
And then I visited Animal Services. And I looked into the eyes of all those abandoned dogs with a needless and unfair expiration date hovering over their heads. And I knew I had to do something. I registered for the Save 90 conference that night.
"Two decades ago, the concept of saving 90% of all animals in shelters was little more than a dream. Today, it is a reality in over 30 cities and counties nationwide and the numbers continue to grow. And the first step to making it a reality, is a decision, a commitment by the community to reject the kill-oriented failures of the past. SAVE 90 starts as an act of will. The next step involves putting into place the infrastructure to save lives.
"And that is where SAVE 90 and YOU come in. To make this happen right here in Hillsborough county we need your help and your voice. Why? Because the single most important factor in reducing the kill rate is having an animals shelter that is committed to embracing this method and rejects excuses for killing animals as a means of animal control. Unfortunately, that will not happen without the voice of the community demanding it to happen."
If this resonates with you, if this is something you want to support, and if you want to learn more about the movement and how you can help, please attend this free conference on Saturday, April 14th at the HCC Dale Mabry campus at 1pm. You can can learn more about the conference and register HERE.