By Tamas Mondovics

Hillsborough County Animal Services were pleased to confirm that the organization’s Falkenburg center had more animals find a new home in December, 2012 than any one month, ever.

In total, 772 animals found forever homes with adoptive families or rescue groups in December, officials said.

The numbers equate to 71 percent of all dogs and 37 percent of all cats, compared to only 53 percent of dogs and 22 percent of cats leaving the shelter alive in December 2011.

County officials aren’t sure of the reason for the high rate of rescued or lost and found cats and dogs of many different breeds, colors and personalities leaving the shelter alive in recent times, but have narrowed it down to the increased hours of operation for adoptions, continued support from rescue groups and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, plus all the special adoption promotions currently in place.

“We still have a long way to go to reach our goals, and we can’t get there overnight,” said Ian Hallett, the new Hillsborough County Animal Services Director. “But it shows that we are on the right path.”

According to the recent numbers, the adoption rate climbed quickly in November when Animal Services opened seven days per week from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Interestingly, one of the most talked about factor to the shelters success are the unpaid volunteers, who  enjoy the many benefits of working with animals and making lifelong friendships.

Of course, with the agency receiving approximately 21,000 animals each year, volunteers have plenty to do as they contribute to shelter operations.

These jobs include assisting at public events, in veterinary services areas, cleaning kennels and cages, enrich dogs in custody during cruelty investigations, to name a few.

Adopters must be escorted in kennel areas, fold newspapers, raise funds for medical needs, and help with donation.

Many volunteers enjoy training dogs, take digital photos of animals for the agency’s website, foster animals at home, walk and socialize fearful animals and last but not least, wash and groom animals.

Local animal shelter volunteer, Michelle Colesanti, said that she particularly enjoys working with cats, “It makes me happy to know that I have a hand in founding a home for these animals and in essence save their lives,” Colesanti said.

Animal services host volunteer orientations regularly asks that junior volunteers, at least 16 years old, to be accompanied by a parent during orientation.

A minimum number of hours per month is preferred, and some work areas require additional training classes for safety in animal handling.

As for adoptions are concerned, officials said that lost and stray animals not claimed by their original owners are fully health-checked by dedicated veterinarians who also perform spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and implant micro-chips as part of the package.

To meet the animals, Hillsborough County Animal Services, is open for adoptions and lost pet search daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. at 440 Falkenburg Rd., N. Tampa.

For information or to volunteer please, visit or call 744-5660.


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