TAMPA — Animal rights crusaders will gather in front of Hillsborough County’s animal shelter Saturday to ask for food, blankets, toys and foster parents for dogs and cats in the shelter.
The donation drive, which starts at 11 a.m., will be combined with a protest against the euthanasia policies of the county’s Animal Services Department, said activist Cassandra Frey. The group will be handing our fliers with a list of rescue organizations that need foster families for animals taken from the shelter.
“We need fosters desperately,” Frey said in an e-mail, “and our demonstration is supposed to be just us with signs to tell people quickly that the animals there are in urgent danger every day.”
Frey has concentrated her online protests on the high number of cats and kittens killed at the shelter. About 10,000 cats are taken in at the shelter each year and about 68 percent of them will be killed this year. Animal Services Director Ian Hallett has defended the shelter policies, saying the current rate of euthanasia is a reduction from the 80 percent that were killed last year. Hallett said the number of cats must be kept down to control disease.
But animal rights groups say some shelter policies give cats little chance of being successfully adopted. For instance, cats surrendered by their owners can be killed anytime, unlike owner-surrendered dogs, which have a five-day hold period before they are put down.
Other changes demanded by animal rights groups include ending the two-cat limit on adoptions and never euthanizing an animal when there are empty cages at the shelter.
“We are really hoping that we will finally get more people’s attention,” Frey said in the e-mail, “and get people involved in helping us get the changes that are so urgently needed.”