Inside Mag — February 2014
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Animal Services And Enforcement
Maria Sonnenberg

MANY WONDERFUL FOREVER FRIENDSHIPS ARE FORGED AT THE MEGA ADOPTION EVENTS HOSTED BY BREVARD COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES AND ENFORCEMENT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SPCA OF BREVARD AND OTHER ANIMAL ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS.<br /> <br /> The twice-yearly events are win-win affairs for both the shelter animals that find new homes and the individuals who welcome a new furry family member into their midst. They’re also extra special for the county shelters, because more animals are saved. “It’s a very happy atmosphere,” says Karla Torpy, director of the county’s Animal Services and Enforcement. “Many people who wouldn’t think about going to a shelter to adopt a pet come to the mega adoptions. Almost all of the animals we take to a mega adoption are adopted.” <br /> <br /> Pets available at mega adoption events are a real deal, since for $25 the new pet parent receives an animal that has been spayed or neutered, is microchipped, and is up to date on vaccinations. The concept of a one-day event featuring a plethora of lovable dogs and cats has become extremely popular with animal rescue organizations throughout the nation. “It’s what everybody is doing, because it works,” adds Torpy.<br /> <br /> The ultimate goal is to create an environment where there are no homeless pets and shelters are not forced to euthanize animals because there are no homes for them. “With the continuing downward trend in euthanasia deaths and increased adoption efforts for at-risk animals in 2014, Brevard County is moving in the right direction” says Torpy.<br /> <br /> The humane movement in the United States has made great strides in curbing the companion animal overpopulation, which not that many years ago resulted in the euthanasia of as many as 19 million unwanted animals annually. Numbers are down to about 4 million a year, and the staff and volunteers of shelters across the country are working hard to whittle that number to eventually zero. “Communities want it to happen, and it will, but not one agency can make it happen,” says Torpy. “It’s got to be the whole community.” <br /> <br /> In Brevard County, Animal Services and Enforcement partners with other shelters and rescue groups and with volunteers like Edward Becht to increase the number of homeless animals adopted. Becht, along with some 300 eligible volunteers with the County’s North and South Animal Care Centers, are literally lifesavers for the homeless animals of Brevard County. A Brevard County sheriff’s deputy at Viera Courthouse, Becht spends his free time walking the shelter dogs to help socialize them and make them more adoptable, as well as visiting Petco with some of the animals on adoption weekends at the store to help them connect with a forever home. Becht also takes the animals to the mega adoption events and makes it a point to educate everyone he meets on the need to adopt shelter animals and to spay or neuter all pets. “Our volunteers have a huge impact,” says Torpy.<br /> <br /> Also critical are the partnerships that Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement has developed with the Central Brevard Humane Society, the SPCA of Brevard and the many breed rescue groups in the county. “These groups are incredible,” says Torpy.<br /> <br /> “They take a huge number of animals from us.” Brevard Lost Pets also helps by trying to reunite stray animals in the shelter with their owners. “We all work in sync to help the animals,” says Torpy.<br /> <br /> As open-admission facilities, both Animal Care Centers accept all unwanted domestic creatures, be they furry, feathered or scaly. Whenever possible, Animal Services and Enforcement staff will work with owners to help them avoid surrendering their pets.<br /> <br /> “If feeding the animals is an issue, we will try to help them with food,” says Torpy.<br /> <br /> “If the animal’s behavior is a problem, we will refer them to trainers. If our officers find a stray, they will knock on doors to try and find their owners before bringing the animal into the system.” <br /> <br /> Ingenuity plays a big part in helping more animals get adopted. The Animal Care Centers’ “Pajama Pup” is a “pet test-drive” opportunity that allows families to bring a shelter dog into their home overnight. Families who are not certain a particular animal will click with them are invited to take it home for 24 hours. “You are not committed to anything beyond the overnight stay and you can take out as many dogs as you want,” said Tracey Breen, rescue coordinator at the South Animal Care Center.<br /> <br /> It was through a Pajama Pup party that former shelter dog Tina found a loving home with nine-year-old Jessica Braswell and her parents. The Satellite Beach family, who often takes shelter dogs into their home to socialize them, fell under the spell of a two-year-old terrier mix.<br /> <br /> Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement is committed to giving homeless animals the second chance they deserve. “Our goal is to get animals into homes,” says Torpy. “Every time we do that, we’re saving lives.”