HSSM's Second Chance Ward could save lives

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The sniffles happen to everyone, including pets. But for many animals in shelters, a common cold can be a killer.

"What we discovered last year, about 1,800 animals were euthanized that if we'd had the ability to isolate them and treat them, they were adoptable," said Tara High, the director for the Humane Society of South Mississippi.

Shelters like the Humane Society of South Mississippi are often filled to capacity. To keep the population healthy, any sick animals have to be isolated.

Unfortunately, sometimes there just isn't enough room and some animals have to be put down.

"Our current facility does not allow for us to house highly contagious diseases and treat them. It's usually a 14 day regimen and the irony of it all is that it is so inexpensive to treat," said High.

The humane society is working hard to make sure that no adoptable animal is euthanized.  They even go as far as using offices to help isolate sick cats.

The shelter hopes to build a Second Chance ward where pets can be treated, and adopted out.

"The Second Chance ward really gives us the ability to get to that 75 percent live release rate," said High.

It's all part of the Countdown to Zero resolution. By 2015, the humane society hopes to make sure that 75 percent of their animals are adopted, returned to owners or transferred to other facilities.

"We're so excited about the resolution that the board accepted in our last board meeting. We made the commitment. We know what we have to do," said High.

"If we are successful in doing this, which we have a plan, we cut it down to the nitty gritty to get it done. We will be the first community in the Deep south to achieve something like this," said HSSM worker Krystyna Szczechowski.

The Second Chance ward would be a simple building on the current campus that could hold 30 dogs and 40 cats. While it is still in planning stages, there is a way residents can help out sick pets now.

"Fostering. It's typically a two week commitment. It makes a huge difference in our ability to save lives. Fostering is a real big thing that folks could do for us," said High.

If you'd like to get involved in fostering, or helping out the Second Chance Ward, just drop by the Humane Society in Gulfport.

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