By Lori Corbett in collaboration with Kim Staton
Let’s talk turkey, no not yet! Let’s not rush the seasons! Actually let’s talk about dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, pigs, horses, and all of the other species that have resided at the shelter and some of the programs that are implemented to help them acclimate to a situation that came about through no fault of their own.
The economy today is definitely on the improvement side of the scale, but it has affected the outcome of so many animals lives and where they end up. Pets have become a natural part of family life, often times treated like a family member. They have their own beds, the best toys, expensive food and treats. Some people even hire expensive pet sitters or pet nannies to care for their pets in their absence. These animals often have their own bedrooms. While we hope it is every owner’s intention to spend the rest of their life with their pet, circumstances do not always allow for that.
Between 2007 and 2009 the economy crashed, people lost homes, jobs and their financial existence. Families were barely able to afford a roof over their head or food for themselves, much less for their pets. Homes were lost and people had to move, sometimes in with family and friends. For some pet owners, the only option seemed to be taking their pet to the animal shelter, where they hoped for adoption but also understood that no promises could be made.
Times are changing; the economy is greatly improving. The housing market is at an all time high and jobs are being created due to industry and growth. Although exciting, growth brings with it it’s own issues, such as population increase, needs for more schools, highway improvement, traffic and for some cost of living increase. Rental properties are being sold and rental tenants have to move, in many cases not being able to take their pets with them.
The animal population has been greatly affected. Population in Osceola County is at an all time high. People who can’t afford to buy a house, are renting homes or apartments. Animals are usually brought in with their owner or acquired after rental process takes place unbeknownst to the landlord. Homeowner’s insurance will not cover certain breeds and landlords are responsible for damages or animal bites that occur on their own property.
Landlords may ask a tenant to rehome a pet or move as a result of an incident. The housing market is also prompting landlords to sell rental properties forcing tenants out. Unfortunately, people cannot find a place that will take their pet, even if they have to reside with family for awhile. Residents in the county are left with a decision to make about their pet, either to rehome them or bring them to the shelter. It is important to understand the shelter is a highly stressful environment and due to the numbers of animals received, no promise of adoption can be made. Owners are encouraged to plan ahead, as much as possible, and have a back up plan for pets in the event the unexpected occurs.
There are hundreds of animals of all shapes and sizes that have called Osceola County Animal services their temporary home, not just dogs and cats, but birds, reptiles, pigs, horses and chickens. If you can think of an animal, chances are it has passed through the shelter at least once. The shelter intake department was inundated with owner give ups in 2016, so much so that these animals are now taken by appointment only and put into place so individuals can be counseled and if there is help to be provided so the family can keep their pet with them.
Let’s talk now about the care that goes into each animal while they are awaiting their forever home. First they are examined, to determine health issues. Should they be found to have an illness, depending on what can be done, they are actually given medication to help with illness. These animals are monitored for progress every day. They will receive vaccines, health permitting and behavior will be assessed over a period of time to determine adoptability. While animals are well cared for, being in an animal shelter is not an optimal environment for them.
Medical care has improved tremendously over the last years as well. Did you know that if an Animal Control Officer responds to a call for an injured animal, the animal is assessed and taken to emergency hospitals for treatment if needed. They receive pain medication, and anything that is needed to stabilize them and keep them free of pain. During the day, emergency calls are taken to veterinarians where they receive the best care, x-rays, bloodwork, and possibly a hospital stay if necessary.
Let us now journey into the new kitten nursery! This is the place that everyone wants to be! An estimated 200 kittens are and have been cared for here, most of them without their eyes even open yet. They are bottle fed, kept warm and also receive medical care, vaccines, and spay/neuter surgery, whichever applies. This was a new endeavor this year to save more lives of these cats than ever before.
Osceola Animal Services began the “Foster to Adopt” program in recent months. The program allows for individuals who find cats and kittens to foster with the possibility of adopting. Foster to Adopt provides food, litter, vaccines, healthcare and spay/neuter surgeries for the cats in this program and will find homes for the cats as soon as they can be adopted!
The veterinary technicians and the veterinarian are responsible for all patients, medications and facilitating outside veterinary trips for x-rays or blood work of animals that require outside medical evaluation or treatments.
What is the bottom line, you ask? Money. All of it costs money, and what do you do if you run out of money? Not an option for the animals.
Stone Creek Family Restaurant will be hosting Osceola County Animal Services, during our first annual Costume “PAWTY”. Stone Creek Family Restaurant is located at 1105 Pennsylvania Ave. in St. Cloud. It’s all happening on October 13 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Sign in for the Costume Contest by noon and judging will be at 2:00pm. Trophies and prizes will be awarded.
Osceola County Animal Services will be on site, with several of their residents up for adoption, as well as Pet Super Market, Paws and Claws Pet Salon, Still Waters Herbal Flea and Tick Products and the Airboat Search and Rescue Team.
Come join us, and bring your furbabies in costume. The entry fee is $20.00 with 100% of the proceeds going to Osceola County Animal Services to defray some of the costs involved in certain aspects of care for the animals.
For those who are interested in donating receiving blankets, kitten supplies (formula, bottles, litter, toys) or anything the animals can use, you can drop off items at Stone Creek Family Restaurant.