For every pet that's adopted from the Gulfport animal shelter, three others are put to death.
That fact is the sad reality of animal overpopulation. And that's why it's important for pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered.
To increase public awareness, February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month .
Anita Holliman oversees what she calls "senseless killing" at the Gulfport animal shelter. She's in charge of the euthanasia.
"Come and sit baby, come and sit," said Holliman, as she cradled a black dog about to be put to sleep.
The dog is next in what's unfortunately become an assembly line of death. A shot of sodium pentathol goes straight to the heart. The animal dies in Anita's arms in a matter of moments.
"Fortunately, we have people here that embrace the animal before they die. So, at least we know that they're loved before they go away," said Holliman.
Viewing disposal of the animals is as disturbing as watching the death. The dead dog is placed in a heavy duty garbage bag and taken to a nearby dumpster.
The whole process is an unwanted, daily reality at the shelter.
Eric Aschaffenburg is president of the Humane Society of South Mississippi .
"There's no way we can adopt 16 thousand animals a year. There are not that many pet homes in this community. So, the only solution really is to end up with fewer animals coming into the shelter," he explained.
And that's why spaying and neutering pets is so important. The animal shelter clinic now performs about 3,500 spay-neuter procedures a year. Shelter officials say they'd like to eventually double that number. And that will require more public awareness.
More spay and neutering will eventually help reduce the number of animals that wind up spending their final moments with Anita Holliman.
"It'll be okay. It'll be okay," said Holliman, as she comforted another dog about to die.
"I can't even put it in words. It is the most important thing we have to do. Spay and neuter these pets to where we do not have to continue to do this senseless killing," she said.
February is spay and neuter awareness month. Pet owners can get their animals spayed or neutered at the animal shelter clinic for fifty dollars. There's also a fund to help pay for the procedure for those who can't afford the fee.