Tampa Mission:Orange Program

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As a participant in ASPCA® Mission: Orange™, Hillsborough County has pledged a 50 percent increase in its save rate for homeless pets by the year 2010

Press Release May 2009
A total of 2,751 cats and dogs left animal shelters alive in Tampa, Fla. during the first quarter of 2009, 294 more than the first quarter of 2008, according to statistics provided by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) during the second year of its ASPCA® Mission: Orange™ campaign in Tampa.

Adoptions increased, while intake and euthanasia of unwanted animals decreased, leading to a 7.1 percentage point increase in the overall live release rate year-over-year for the first quarter of 2009 compared to 2008. This follows a 6.7 percentage point increase in overall live release rate last year, which rose from 23.1 percent in 2007 to 29.8 percent in 2008. Live release rate refers to the percentage of animals that exited the shelter system alive, via adoption, return-to-owner, or transfer to another agency for adoption.

Adoptions were up 28 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the first quarter of 2008 following an overall adoptions increase of 48 percent in 2008 over the previous year (6,881 total compared to 4,636 in 2007). Intake dropped seven percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the first quarter of 2008 (6,473 compared to 6,931). Euthanasia also dropped 17 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the first quarter of 2008 following an overall euthanasia decrease of 10 percent in 2008 over the previous year (23,508 total compared to 26,047).

"These latest findings reaffirm our confidence in the power of collaboration among agencies who share a common goal—to provide positive outcomes for at-risk animals," said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. "We applaud the hard work and dedication of our Tampa partners in their efforts to provide positive outcomes for the homeless pets in their community."

The ASPCA Mission: Orange partners in Tampa include Humane Society of Tampa Bay (a non-profit, "no-kill" shelter), Hillsborough County Animal Services (the city-funded shelter), and No More Homeless Pets in Hillsborough County/TampaPets.org (a local coalition of rescue groups).


Q. How was Tampa chosen to be an ASPCA® Mission: Orange™ target community?

A. With more than 17 million people, Florida is the fourth largest state in the U.S., only behind California, Texas and New York. The three counties that comprise Tampa Bay—Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco—offer a combined population of 2.5 million. Tampa also has the third largest immigrant (Hispanic/Latino) population in the U.S. ASPCA Mission: Orange is going to concentrate its efforts in Hillsborough County, which has the largest population of the three counties, at more than 1.1 million people. With success, the program could be expanded to neighboring counties in the future.

Q. Who are the participating animal welfare agencies in Tampa?

A. Tampa’s lead community and animal welfare agencies for this campaign are:

  • Hillsborough County Animal Services (animal control facility);
  • The Humane Society of Tampa Bay; and
  • No More Homeless Pets (a coalition of animal welfare groups and individuals working together to end pet overpopulation).

Q. How many animals are relinquished to Tampa shelters each year?

A. Approximately 50,000 animals were euthanized last year at the three animal control agencies in Tampa Bay. Of the three county facilities, the breakdown is as follows:

Q. What are some of the other challenges, besides overcrowded shelters, that Tampa faces?

A. Besides unwanted pets, the participating ASPCA Mission: Orange animal welfare agencies still face the following challenges:

  • Hillsborough County Animal Services: Euthanizes approximately 90 percent of animals due to limited adoption programs, lack of space, health issues with animals and no formal behavior assessment program;
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay: Has limited space due to being a limited admission facility. There have also been health issues with animals that have been transferred in from animal control which have limited the animals they are able to take;
  • No More Homeless Pets-Hillsborough County (NMHP-HC): Has had limited impact due to no physical shelter and lack of funding for programs.

Other challenges include a large number of feral/stray cats and high volume of cruelty cases often involving pit bulls which need to be held at the shelter for long periods of time until cases are resolved.

Although pit bulls are banned in the Miami area, no breed bans currently exist in Tampa Bay. Dog fighting is an issue. Shelters offer pit bulls and pit mixes for adoption, but they are difficult to place and tend to linger longer than other animals, increasing the chances of disease and problematic behavior.

Q. How will the ASPCA Mission: Orange effort address these issues and drive the effort of decreasing homelessness for pets in Tampa?

A. ASPCA Mission: Orange initiatives in Tampa include behavior assessment programs to complement shelter adoption programs, reducing intake of unwanted animals and expanding existing spay/neuter programs.

Each sheltering facility has veterinarians on staff, and the veterinarian community (which includes two schools for veterinary technicians in the Tampa Bay area as well as a college of veterinary medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville), has demonstrated its strong interest in helping the local shelters with disaster relief by working with the local EARS (Emergency Animal Rescue Services) representative.

Q. Is there a specific goal for Tampa to achieve as a participant in ASPCA Mission: Orange?

A. The ASPCA understands that each community is different and will achieve its goals in a different time frame from the others. As such, we will be assisting each community identify its measurable goals and the time frame to achieve them. Overall, based on shelter statistics, the common goal will be to:

  • Increase the community shelter adoption rate by at least 10 percent by the end of 2007; and
  • Move towards a 50 percent ‘save rate’ for the community shelter partners by 2010.

Q. How is the ASPCA contributing financially to Tampa?

A. In addition to providing the resources mentioned above, the ASPCA will invest up to $1 million in dollars and resources over a three-year period in each of the target communities towards capacity-building and related animal welfare efforts to assist these communities in making significant inroads towards not just becoming, but maintaining, “humane community” status.