Funding to Rescue Waggin’ ending soon, alternative being sought

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2016

These two puppies just got to PRCSPCA in search for new homes, however towards the end of July, the search might get difficult because of the Rescue Waggin' program ending

These two puppies just got to PRCSPCA in search for new homes, however towards the end of July, the search might get difficult because of the Rescue Waggin’ program ending.

To the pets in animal shelters, location is key. The troubles of having too many animals are spreading around the nation, especially in southern cities, says PRCSPCA director Judy Wheaton.
Because of this need, PetSmart Charities invented the Rescue Waggin’ program, which picks up selected dogs and puppies from partner shelters in areas where there are more pets than can be housed, and transports them to other areas to give these pets a better chance of being adopted, according to
However, Rescue Waggin’ is ending locally toward the end of July.
“There is a little bit of butterflies in the pit of my stomach as we wait to see how we are going to deal with bringing in a nice dog that might not have a chance of getting adopted and not having the Waggin’ to rely on,” said Wheaton.
“It’s a pretty expensive program. They reimburse us for every animal that gets transported, so about $60 per animal, and they have to pay all their staff and also transport drivers,” said Wheaton.
There are few alternatives, but Wheaton believes they can find their back-up plan very soon.
“[PetSmart Charities] are offering what they call ‘fast pass grants’ which help ease the transition,” said Wheaton.
The purpose of these grants is to either help reduce intake or increase the number of adoptions says Wheaton.
“The Waggin’ was a big help for us. We got 500 dogs out last year, so that is going to be a big hole to fill,” said Wheaton.
Another alternative is a spay and neuter grant, which is one of the ways shelters can reduce intake, Wheaton said.
PRCSPCA offers a spay and neuter program to the public, said Wheaton, which is how they have experienced a drop from 6,000 animals surrendered in 2007 to just under 3,000 last year.
PRCSPCA’s plan to overcome the transition is to ask if PetSmart Charities can continue to give them donations, allowing the shelter to use some of that money for adoption fees, making adopting a pet cheaper, which in return gets more animals into loving homes, says Wheaton.
A multi-shelter meeting in Hattiesburg on June 5 will form a coalition of shelters to establish a coordinated transport system, Wheaton said.
“Most of the other shelters that we have been sending animals to throughout our time here have told us that they will continue to take some of the animals. However, the only problem is how we are going to get them there,” said Wheaton.
At PRCSPCA, there is enough room to comfortably house around 70 dogs and 50 cats.
The goal of PRCSPCA is to become a no-kill shelter. Usually this happens when a shelter’s live animal release is from 90 to 95 percent. Wheaton says PRCSPCA is at about 75 percent.
The local animal shelter has made moves to sign with another program, called Pilots and Paws, which is a volunteer group of pilots who will fly pets from the shelter to their new home, said Wheaton.
Former president of the shelter and current public relations representative Maria Diamond says the community can play a part in adapting to the transition.
“Foster homes are a great way for the community to help and get involved. [PRCSPCA] provides the food and water and everything the animals need. All fosters have to do is provide space and love,” said Diamond.
Also, Diamond said it’s essential to have pets and stray animals spayed and neutered, to keep colonies from growing out of control.
“We have certain programs at PRCSPCA like TNR, Trap Neuter Release, which is for feral cats, and SNR, Spay Neuter Return, which applies to those cats that are hanging out in your yard and you’re feeding them, but need to get fixed,” said Diamond.
PRCSPCA has a variety of cats and dogs for reasonable prices that go all the way down to free shop cats, which are cats that can withstand and thrive in an environment like a shop.
For more information on how to get involved and volunteer, call PRCSPCA at (601) 798-8000 or visit them and the animals at 1700 Palestine Road.

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