GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Humane Society of South Mississippi is making strides to save more animals' lives. Tuesday night, the group held a town hall meeting to talk about how to become a no kill shelter.
The Humane Society believes that putting animals down is an outdated form of population control. Since it was founded in 1952, one of its goals was to bring the number of euthanized animals down. In recent years, the numbers looked promising. So promising that in 2011, the humane society decided to start setting more ambitious goals.
"Back then, we thought our goal was 75 percent live release," said Krystyna Schmitt.
Schmitt is the marketing specialist for the shelter, and she says now the goals have changed. Schmitt said that inspiration came from another city's example. Jacksonville, Florida reached a 90 percent live release rate. She says that's what is being defined as a "no-kill community." That rate has now become their goal. Shmitt said getting there may be the toughest challenge the society has faced.
"Now that we're shooting for 90 or better... it's like losing the last few pounds, it's going to be a little difficult," said Schmitt.
Scott Trebatoski with Jacksonville Animal Care says it may not be as difficult as it sounds.
"We thought it was going to be harder than it was because we thought we'd plateau out and we plateau'd out for one year, and then the next year, we saw a double digit drop," said Trebatoski.
What made the difference was the community. Jacksonville's Target Zero Institute helped to bridge the gap and bring awareness to more people. Co-founder Rick DuCharme said this shelter has the building blocks to reach a no-kill status.
"It's really exciting in the Gulfport area because they've made so much progress already in animal welfare, and really there's just a few missing pieces to make the community a no-kill community," said DuCharme.
His mission is to help the Humane Society put those missing pieces in place.
The Humane Society hopes to reach the 90 percent live release goal by 2015. To find out more about the Humane Society's "Countdown to Zero" initiative, please visit: http://www.hssm.org/countdown-to-zero/.
For more information of the Target Zero Institute, please visit: http://www.targetzeroinstitute.org/