On Feb. 23, Hattiesburg’s Southern Pines Animal Shelter (SPAS) announced that it has maintained the status of a no-kill shelter for more than two years.
In 2016, the shelter saved almost 6,000 animals and achieved a 97.9 percent placement rate. Nationally, the accepted no-kill standard rate is a placement rate of 90 percent. According SPAS, it is the largest open-admission animal shelter with the no-kill status in the entire state.
“We have met the national standard to be classified as no-kill status,” said Director for Southern Pines Animal Shelter Ginny Sims.
“Southern Pines accepts all animals into the shelter and does not discriminate against age, health or perceived adoptability [sic].”
Sims said SPAS has worked hard to create innovative adoption programs.
“We operate a transport program that saves thousands of animals,” Sims said. “Through the support of the community, we have been able to save more lives than ever before.”
The shelter’s no-kill status does not rule out the practice of euthanization completely, but its decisions to euthanize animals is based on the animal’s level of suffering. Animals suffering from illness, injury or extreme aggression have a decreased quality of life and put the public at risk, according to SPAS.
Sims said euthanasia is for animals dealing with illness or aggression to which they are a danger to themselves or to the public.
“We are able to treat for things we haven’t been able to,” Sims said. “Because the community has supported us and continues to support us, the number of lives saved is the same as a no-kill shelter.”
The organization has rescued more than 12,000 cats and dogs since 2015, providing them with a means to shelter and medical care.
The shelter’s humane success is possible through progressive shelter programs and services. The shelter’s supporters such as volunteers, fosters, community supporters, staff and board of directors have also contributed to the shelter reaching the no-kill status.
Adoption programs encourage people to adopt animals in the shelter, opening living opportunities for the animals. Innovative programs such as the “Barn Cat” and “Healing Heart” program have protected animals with behavioral or bodily risks by helping them find adoptive homes.
Southern Pines partners with 15 other shelters in the region which help bring animals across Mississippi through the Southern Pines Transport Program, saving more than 3,000 animals last year.
“Our transport program has made a huge impact,” Sims said. “Transport program partners take animals that might stay in the shelter for months or become sick or have behavioral issues.”
SPAS has created several other initiative to help reduce the amount of homeless animals.
Over the course of seven years, The Southern Pines Spay & Neuter Clinic has completed more than 40,000 spay and neuter surgeries. The clinic has saved more than 1.2 million lives by reducing the number of unwanted litters being born into Mississippi communities.
The Southern Pines Second Chance Thrift Shop opened in 2011 and functions to save the lives of homeless, neglected and abused pets at the shelter. The shop has raised over $147,000 in effort to save animal lives.
The Second Chance Thrift Shop does not only cater to animals. It contributes to the community by having donated thousands of dollars in clothing and items to “organizations assisting homeless populations and local at-risk youth,” according to the Southern Pines organization.
“This is truly a community accomplishment,” Sims said.
The shelter has held the no-kill status since Dec. 2014.
“We have a commitment to save every life we can,” Sims said. “Together, we can accomplish more.”