This month, we are taking a detour from Florida’s incredible biodiversity and shining a light on the domestic animal crisis that we face here in the state. Florida’s warm climate allows for many species to thrive, including dogs and cats. Every year in the United States, millions of abandoned, injured, unwanted and homeless dogs and cats enter our state and county facilities. Of those, hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized in these often tax-funded shelters due to lack of space and homes. Florida is in the top five of states where most of these deaths occur. Our homeless, feral and stray populations of dogs and cats are at a tipping point and need our attention.

You may be wondering how you can help. Many of us love animals and may feel helpless with this information. The good news is we can each proactively help save the lives of dogs and cats in our communities and that positive change can start today. In fact, it will be through individual actions and choices that many of these animals can be saved. Florida has countless nonprofit animal rescues across the state, like the one that I founded in 2013, FishHawk TNR Inc. Animal Rescue. By supporting local rescues, you are helping to save the lives of local animals in need.

Supporting rescues and shelters can take many forms, such as volunteering, fostering, following social media pages, attending events, donating, sharing adoptable animals and, most importantly, choosing adoption as the first and only way to obtain a new furry family member. Foster-based animal rescues can be especially beneficial, as those animals have been raised in family foster homes, making them extra socialized and adaptable. This also enables the rescue to make great suggestions that match your home and lifestyle.

Opening your home to a foster pet is an incredible, life-changing and life-saving experience and may not be as scary as you think. Additional ways to help pets is to remember that pet ownership is a lifetime commitment. Spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats directly save lives, TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and return of community cats) works and keeping dogs leashed and cats indoors ensures safety for all. It takes a village to care for and save animals’ lives, and together we can catalyze change.

For more information on FishHawk TNR Inc. Animal Rescue or to inquire about fostering, please email the rescue at or find us on social media @fishhawktnr.

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