Humane Society Naples sets adoption record in 2012

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Dani, a three legged black cur mix, center, plays along with other dogs at the Naples Dog Park on Monday Feb. 04, 2013. Dani was one of more than 2,800 Humane Society of Naples animals adopted in 2012.

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Scott McIntyre/Staff Dani, a three legged black cur mix, center, plays along with other dogs at the Naples Dog Park on Monday Feb. 04, 2013. Dani was one of more than 2,800 Humane Society of Naples animals adopted in 2012.

Dani might only have three legs, but she's one of the most active dogs at the dog park.

She loves to dig and drink from the sprinkler.

But she wasn't always this way. When she was 8 months old, the black cur mix was brought to the Caloosa Humane Society in LaBelle with a severely broken leg, possibly the result of being hit by a car.

She was transferred to The Humane Society Naples who took her in, paid $3,000 for her surgery and placed her up for adoption.

"I ran down there. I knew we had to adopt her," said Mel Melhado, who added Dani to his family after reading her story in the paper. "She's very special. I wanted to give her a second chance."

Dani was one of more than 2,800 Humane Society of Naples animals adopted in 2012 — a record-breaking year for organization. That is over 600 more than 2011, which was the previous record year.

The shelter also took in more than 1,500 pets from other shelters — including more than 700 from Collier County Domestic Animal Services — most of which were scheduled for euthanasia.

"The more we can get into peoples' homes through us, the more we can save," said Michael Simonik, the Humane Society's executive director.

There are several reasons adoptions from the shelter are up, Simonik said. Among them are the improving economy, the fact that shelter dogs and cats cost less than those from a breeder, and increasing awareness of the need to adopt.

But one of the biggest, he said, is that the Humane Society opened a satellite shelter in the Coastland Center mall.

"That helps people know we exist. And, if they don't see the pet they want at the mall, they can come to the shelter," he said. "Eight years ago when I got here, we adopted 385 animals for the year. Now, we are adopting 250 a month."

Saving "kill shelter" animals — those that will be euthanized when there is no space to add new animals — has also become a growing practice, said Andy Reed, the Humane Society's director of development.

"It's a lot of networking between the agencies," he said. "Shelters know that they can call us if they have litters of puppies or kittens that they might have to put down."

No agency can do it all, said Amanda Townsend, executive director of Collier County Domestic Animal Services. With reduced budgets and staffing capabilities, DAS is lucky to have partners that come to its assistance, she said.

"Each organization has taken a little specific focus area and provides that service better than any others," she said. "We do animal control better than anyone else. The Humane Society does adoptions better than anyone else. The Cat Coalition does trap, neuter and return better."

Simonik said the Humane Society's position is simple — they can bring in one animal when one is adopted. It's also about having resources, like foster homes or a fund that allows them to perform surgeries on animals that might otherwise be put down.

"The county does not have the time, resources or foster program to bottle feed kittens," he said. "We do."

It's also about getting the right mix of animals in the shelter, Simonik said. When the Humane Society agrees to accept animals from the shelter, he said, they choose a mix of old and young and different breeds.

"We want to stay full and never have an empty cage," he said. "If an animal's life is in danger, we want to get them in."

It is also helping the pet overpopulation, Simonik said, because every animal that is adopted from The Humane Society Naples, Collier County Domestic Animal Services or the local rescue groups is spayed or neutered.

"The more animals we can get into people's homes through us," he said, "the more we can stop pet overpopulation."

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