Saturday, January 21, 2012

Suggestions for working with rural shelter

For many readers of this blog, Florida inspires visions of sun-kissed beaches, waving palm trees, Disney World or citrus groves bright with sweet, juicy fruit just waiting to be eaten.
For those of us who really know Florida, we can still see the rural areas of river rats and unemployment, tar paper shacks (which still exist) and 9th grade educations. Florida can be a study of opposites: the very wealthy and the very poor and this does not create a good scenario for the homeless animals of the state.
It is easy for many to simply close their eyes and tell those who will listen it is not their problem. Although I disagree, I must continue to put the word out about the animals.
Putnam County, Florida is not close to where I live. It is a rural county, centrally located between Jacksonville, Gainesville, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach with a population around 70,000. Palatka is the county seat. The per capita income for the county was $15,603. About 15.80% of families and 20.90% of the population were below the poverty line. This is reality.
When you have a county with so little money, their animal control agency can leave a lot to be desired when you are trying to work with them to save animals.
I belong to a cross posting, social networking group called G.R.I.T.S which stands for Girls Raised in the South and we post all over the internet, groups which need help with dogs and cats in shelters. We concentrate on Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, but do not limit ourselves to these states for animals in need.
Several months ago, I received an email from another rescuer asking for any help we could provide for this shelter, which of course, has a very high kill rate. I contacted the lead rescuer of
G.R.I.T.S. and she found some volunteers who were willing to begin gathering information to put on our social networking sites, build a Facebook page etc.
The problem is the county. They, of course, have very few employees and have not been easily available to help get this started. I don't believe they are intentionally ignoring us, but simply overwhelmed with the job. They don't even have cage cards for the animals, so the volunteers are taking a guess on dog breed and can only describe what they see with their eyes. There is, of course, no behavior testing or anything of that nature. We get photos. Just photos.
They seem to be rescue friendly, though, just overwhelmed. If you, in all your wisdom, have any suggestions I can pass on to our group which could help, or if you live in this area and could volunteer some time to visit and begin forming a relationship with the employees, please pass that information along and I will get it to the proper people.
I am sure this problem has been faced before, I just need to figure out how to do it.

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