Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animal Agency Gets New Building, Friendly Name; Center Hopes a More Inviting Moniker Will Boost Adoption Rates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animal Agency Gets New Building, Friendly Name; Center Hopes a More Inviting Moniker Will Boost Adoption Rates

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

One by one, they arrived: a hound, nose to the ground as he was led inside; a gray and white kitten, mewling; a tabby, poking her paw out of the cage.

Thursday was moving day for Jacksonville Animal Care and Control, to a long-awaited building that will mark big improvements in how the city deals with unwanted animals.

The new building even sparked a re-christening for the city agency. At its grand opening on Saturday, the department will officially be dubbed Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services.

"It better matches what we do as a modern animal control," said Scott Trebatoski, the division's director. "Sometimes people get caught up in that name. We protect people from animals but also protect animals from people."

The name reflects the multitude of issues the department deals with, he said, from animal cruelty cases and dog bites to abandoned cats and lost dogs.

Then, there's the quest to get animals adopted. In Jacksonville, new partnerships with nonprofits have reduced the number of feral cats killed. Yet more than 11,000 adoptable animals still are euthanized each year. Owners are surrendering pets at record rates because of economic pressure and foreclosures.

MORE FRIENDLY NAMES

It's not just Jacksonville's facility that's going by a new moniker. Nationally, there's a trend toward more adoption-friendly shelters and new names, said Stephen Musso, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the ASPCA, a national animal welfare group.

"You want to come up with creative ways to make it more inviting for the general public so they will come to the center and adopt," Musso said.

In St. Johns County, the county shelter is the "pet center." In Nassau County, it's not Animal Control, it's Animal Services.

The reforms are not just public relations mumbo jumbo, Musso said. Depressing conditions at shelters and negative names can actually keep the public at bay. That had been a problem in Jacksonville, where a new shelter was first initiated in 2001 but delayed until 2006. In all it cost about $8.5 million, $1 million less than originally planned.

In St. Johns County, the Animal Control Department began adopting out pets after it opened a modern Pet Center in 2007, and the rate of adoptions has been increasing, said spokeswoman Karen Pan.

At the old Jacksonville shelter, less than half the size of the new one, crowded corridors didn't leave much room for potential pet parents to interact with a dog or cat they wanted to meet. The new place has six "get acquainted" rooms. In addition, all of the animals will be in air conditioning, which is aided by natural ventilation to cut down on energy costs.

The building is the city's first certified "green" building, made to save significant energy and water. …

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