Mission Orange Campaign Aims To Save Animals In Harrison County

"How many people watch 'Animal Precinct' on Animal Planet?" Annemarie Lucas asked a group of Biloxi students.

All hands quickly shot up.

"Wow, very nice," Lucas said.

Annemarie Lucas, the star of the reality series 'Animal Precinct', deals with a serious subject - animal cruelty.

"Can you believe that people in this country abuse animals?" Lucas asked the children. "Isn't that very, very sad?"

Lucas and the ASPCA want South Mississippians, young and old, to get involved in creating a humane community. So they came to Popps Ferry Elementary in Biloxi on Friday, to launch a three-year campaign called "ASPCA Mission: Orange."

"Orange is a very vibrant color, with lots of energy," Lucas said. "We want to get animals adopted. We want to get them spayed and neutered, and we want to move them out and get them to a location where they can possibly be adopted."

To carry out its goals, the organization is partnering with Mississippi Spay and Neuter, the Humane Society of South Mississippi, the Biloxi and Gulfport Police Departments, and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

"I present to you this check for $200,000 to get the work started," said a member of the ASPCA.

"It's going to allow us to expand our spay and neuter efforts in Harrison County," said Marilyn Davis with Mississippi Spay and Neuter. "What this means is we can keep unwanted pets, unwanted cats and dogs from being born. And with the ASPCA's help, we can work towards this dream."

"When we come together and work together for a single cause, our effect can be profound," said Tara High with the Humane Society. "That's what 'Mission: Orange' is doing for our community as it relates to the animals at-risk in our community."

"The key to the success of this program is going to be teamwork and educational outreach," said David Waltman with the Gulfport Police Department. "So we're ready to go. We are so excited."

The campaign also includes education programs to encourage children to love, care, and stand up for the animals. That's why the ASPCA brought dogs from the Humane Society to show the children, and donated more than a dozen books about animals to the children at Popps Ferry Elementary.

"If you can get out there and save animals or teach one of your friends that it's not OK to hurt animals, and every animal deserves a home, then that's a great message that we can get out there," said Lucas.

The five agencies in the program will receive a total of $600,000 over three years. The money will also be used to hire a Humane Education Coordinator to work with schools and pet owners, and a Disaster Preparedness Manager to develop pet friendly shelters and evacuation plans.