2012: Zero Euthanasia of Healthy, Adoptable Pets at HSSM

Humane Society of South Mississippi Finishes 2012 With Zero Euthanasia of Healthy, Adoptable Pets

 January 11, 2013 (Gulfport, MS) – The Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM) is celebrating a groundbreaking year, during which the shelter avoided euthanizing all healthy, adoptable pet. This is a first for HSSM and a huge accomplishment for any shelter in the Deep South. In addition to this feat, HSSM finished 2012 with a Live Release Rate of 67%, meaning the shelter met its first year goal for HSSM’s three-year Countdown to Zero initiative, which aims to completely eliminate the euthanasia of not just healthy pets, but those which are treatable as well, by 2015.

In 2012, HSSM did not euthanize any healthy, adoptable pet for lack of space in the shelter. This accomplishment is a first in the organization’s history and a huge success for any shelter—especially a shelter in the Deep South, which is a region more effected by pet overpopulation than other areas of the country. In 2011, nearly 300 healthy adoptable pets were euthanized at HSSM simply for lack of space, but during 2012 HSSM staff, volunteers, and supporters worked tirelessly and oftentimes, creatively, to avoid this needless tragedy.

“I have dreamt of this moment since I became involved with HSSM back in 2000,” said HSSM Executive Director, Tara High, “I am so excited to have saved every single healthy pet in 2012 and to be this close to achieving a day where no pet is needlessly euthanized in our community.”

In addition to avoiding euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets during 2012, HSSM boasts a 67% Live Release Rate for 2012, compared to a 20-25% Live Release Rate at the shelter prior to Hurricane Katrina. The 2012 Live Release Rate of 67% means that HSSM hit its first-year goal in the organization’s Countdown to Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate the euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets in our community by 2015.

HSSM is an Open Admission Shelter, meaning that any and all pets are accepted, regardless of where they are coming from, health, age, or behavioral status. In any community, it is estimated that 25% of the pet population entering shelters will not be a candidate for re-homing due to aggression and/or serious illness or injury. This means that an Open Admission Shelter can expect a 75% Live Release Rate once that shelter has eliminated the euthanasia of healthy and treatable pets.

HSSM credits the increase in Live Release Rate to a 9% decrease in intake of homeless pets (the results of an aggressive spay/neuter program, particularly for feral and free-roaming cats), placing over 5,000 pets in adoptive homes, returning over 1,000 lost pets to their owners, and transporting over 1,000 pets to other areas of the country for adoption via the Love Train program.

HSSM’s 2013 Live Release Rate goal is 72% and will require continued creativity and tenacity on behalf of HSSM staff, volunteers and supporters, but also a large community involvement and level of commitment.

For a more in-depth look at  HSSM’s Countdown to Zero initiative, please log on to www.hssm.org or call 228-863-3354 ext. 103.



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The mission of the Humane Society of South Mississippi is to save and enhance the lives of pets through cooperative and innovative approaches to adoption, spay/neuter, sheltering and community engagement.

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