GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A program that has saved thousands of dogs and cats in South Mississippi from having to be put down is about to expand thanks to a generous donation. The gift will help find families in other parts of the country for homeless animals at the Humane Society of South Mississippi.
With our severe pet over-population problem, shelter officials say sometimes finding good homes for dogs and cats means taking them away from the Coast.
"The majority of those pets would not have a positive outcome if they remained in our shelter, just because we don't have the human population to support the adoptions for those pets," said HSSM spokeswoman Krystyna Schmitt.
Since 2005, the Love Train program has saved more than 7,000 dogs and cats by transporting them to areas where there are shortages of adoptable pets. A $35,000 donation from the Jack and Trudy Wilson Animal Welfare Fund will pay for a larger Love Train truck. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation administers the grant.
"They are providing a broader market for adopting animals by being able to take those animals to other areas that need and want animals to adopt. We're solving our problem and solving their problem, so it's really a win-win," said Roger Wilder, foundation president.
"This generous donation will allow us to purchase a new truck and trailer, which has a much greater capacity. It's about five times what we can do now," Schmitt said. "With the bigger trailer comes more efficiency. The cost per life saved is expected to decrease, and in that too, we'll be able to save our program expenses."
Shelter officials said with more room in the truck, animals that are more difficult to adopt out will have a better chance of survival.
"So there's more opportunities for large dogs and cats to go out on this trailer than on our current vehicle, which really only comfortably accommodate small dogs which get adopted very quickly," said Schmitt.
Officials said the Jack and Trudy Animal Welfare Fund also paid for the humane society's current Love Train truck.