Agencies and businesses work together to save homeless pets

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

Front, Nikki Harris, ACPS, Dione Garnand, FOJA, Nancy Williams, Haskell; back: Becky Hamilton, FOJA, Kelly Warren, FOJA, Jill Mero, FOJA/Watson Realty, Margie Yarborough, FOJA, and Kim Pugh, Haskell

Front, Nikki Harris, ACPS, Dione Garnand, FOJA, Nancy Williams, Haskell; back: Becky Hamilton, FOJA, Kelly Warren, FOJA, Jill Mero, FOJA/Watson Realty, Margie Yarborough, FOJA, and Kim Pugh, Haskell

Nancy Williams of The Haskell Group, who is also a volunteer with Friends of Jacksonville Animals, recently invited Riverside area businesses to a luncheon for the purpose of getting information out about Animal Care and Protective Services (ACPS) and what the area businesses can do to help in the animal shelter’s foster and adoption programs.
When it comes to caring for animals without homes, Jacksonville is unique, according to Nikki Harris, shelter manager for ACPS, who has worked in shelters in other cities. “To see this many agencies cooperating without badmouthing doesn’t happen in other places. We have good partners who are not competitive.”

Harris shared that, as a city organization, the shelter cannot apply for or receive grants, but partners, such as Friends of Jacksonville Animals (FOJA), can get grants to hire and place animal care givers at the ACPS shelter. She noted too, that the Jacksonville Humane Society, recently received a grant from Best Friends Animals which enabled the JHS to take overflow animals from ACPS.

“Since October (2012), we’ve saved 90 percent of animals that have come through our door,” said Harris. “We take in about 20,000 dogs and cats each year and so far in June (as of the 19th) we’ve admitted over 900 and not even 50 percent have been adopted.”

The shelter manager also said that while they strive to be a no-kill shelter, they are not. “We expect to euthanize between two and four thousand per year,” Harris continued.
ACPS lost 18 employees through budget cuts in 2012 and are facing more in October. The current staff of 40 is stretched thin, so volunteers are critical. Any time, even as little as a 15-minute walk with a dog or two, is appreciated. “Dogs are only guaranteed one walk per day,” Harris shared.

Becky Hamilton, vice president of the heartworm program at FOJA, said that FOJA completely funds the heartworm treatments at the shelter. The all-volunteer, nonprofit group includes professionals such as Jill Mero, a realtor with Watson Realty of San Marco, and Kelly Warren, director of Student Life at Florida State College-Jacksonville. Warren is both a foster volunteer and photographs the animals for marketing. Margie Yarborough, one of FOJA’s founders, was at the luncheon.

The luncheon was held on June 19 at the Haskell Building. Several businesses were invited; those who sent representatives included Bryant Miller Olive, CSX and EverBank. Kelly Kinney represented CSX, which has an animal advocacy group. The Haskell Group has also hosted onsite animal adoptions for homeless pets being fostered.
Samantha Collins and Janice Love of The Jacksonville Landing were also present and spoke about the spring and fall Yappy Hour events that encourage BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog) and offer a pet expo, dog contests, live music, giveaways and more. Follow YappyHourJax on Facebook or www.JacksonvilleLanding.com for more information.

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