Hillsborough Program to Keep Pets with their Owners Earns National Recognition

Hillsborough County, Fla. (June 4, 2021) - Hillsborough County's Pet Resource Center has been recognized with a national award for an innovative program that helps people stay with their pets instead of surrendering them to the shelter.

The National Association of Counties will present the Pet Resources Center a 2021 Achievement Award in the Human Services category at its July 11 annual conference in Maryland.

PRC earned the award for its "Keeping Pets with their People'' program. The program began after shelter staff realized that many people who came to the shelter to surrender their dog or cat did so because of short-term issues that, if addressed quickly, could allow the pets to remain with their owners. Common reasons for animal surrenders were a need for affordable medical care, short-term assistance with food and supplies, pet training issues, and finding breed-friendly housing options.

The shelter created a multi-disciplinary team of veterinarians, shelter staff, animal control officers and pet owners who researched options and resources. That resulted in the creation of a full-time Pet Support Team that provides assistance to help a struggling family with a pet.

These resources include pet-training assistance, a food bank, a list of apartment complexes that accept all pets, a list of low-cost veterinary clinics, and supplies such as pet crates or leashes. In some cases, the PRC can provide free medical care. If an owner cannot keep their pet, a counselor points the pet owner to local and online resources such as websites and rescue groups to try to rehome their pet on their own. Sometimes, pet needs are a sign of human needs; when owners need help themselves, the team helps connect them with social services.

The results have been dramatic. Last year, the Pet Support Team helped families keep or rehome more than 1,000 pets that otherwise would have been surrendered to the shelter.

Links: Photos, award application


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