Polk County is looking to make changes after ranking at the top of a list no county wants to be on. The county currently ranks first in the state and tenth in the nation for euthanizing animals.
“When you’re in that kind of situation there is nowhere to go but up, so that’s our goal this year,” SPCA Florida Executive Director Shelley Thayer said.
Thayer said the board was approached by the Best Friends Animal Society about the initiative, and they were happy to make it a goal: Become a no-kill county by 2025.
“That’s a big thing to do,” Thayer said.
Nearly half of the animals at Polk County Animal Control are euthanized.
The first major change will be a “save the kittens” initiative because kittens top the euthanasia list.
“We’re going to need about an additional $700,000 this year to make this happen, to take in an additional 4,000 animals, on top of the 4,000 we currently rescue every year,” Thayer said.
Thayer said they will also try to recruit more foster families to help, and team up with other rescues across the nation to take in animals.
The agency will focus efforts on finding rescues to take in bully breeds and heartworm-positive dogs.
They will also work to educate the public on their low-cost and free spay and neutering programs.
Thayer realizes it’s a monumental task, but says with the help of the public they will be able to make it a reality.
“We just decided we’re going to do something about it. We’re jumping in with both feet obviously.”