We all know that too many pets end up in shelters.

Each year, Suncoast Humane Society shelters more than 2,000 pets and helps more than 8,500 more through our clinic services. Shelters are an important safety net that protects animals who have no one to care for them and provides affordable medical solutions.

Recently, we all faced the devastation of COVID-19. Its consequence of an economic downturn impacted those who were already financially vulnerable.

As Suncoast Humane Society has searched for ways to best lift up our pet-loving community, we started to implement Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS) programs. The purpose is to meet people where they are and to find ways to help, such as our Community Pet Food Bank, which is free to anyone in need of pet food.

To truly meet people where they are, we feel that we need to not only create programs, but we need to embrace each set of circumstances with creativity and compassion. Emmett’s story is an example of how we aspire to help.

Earlier in the pandemic, when all of the shelter animals were in foster homes, we received a communication about a sweet dog named Emmett. Emmett’s dad had to leave the state for personal reasons and asked a friend to keep Emmett until he could return.

There was then a rift in the relationship and the caretaker no longer wanted to tend to Emmett. Local friends tried to figure out how to house Emmett until his pet parent could return, but like many, everyone already had a full house.

Emmett’s friends reached out to Suncoast Humane Society asking for help and guidance. Our team got busy at a moment’s notice and found a short-term foster with the intent of getting Emmett back to his owner when able.

We made the commitment to help, and the foster did an amazing job of caring for this sweet boy.

Ultimately, the overall circumstances led us all to learn that Emmett needed to find a new forever family. As much as we wanted to have a different outcome, we offered our best to help with a difficult situation.

Emmett was only available for adoption for two days before he was on the way to his new forever home. He now gets to share his tender spirit and all his love with his very own, new forever family.

Suncoast Humane Society is going to keep working on ways to create opportunities and solutions for families and pets to stay together. These aren’t always easy solutions, but we think they are worth trying.

To learn more about Suncoast Humane Society, animals available for adoption, programs and services, or to make a donation, please visit www.humane.org or call 941-474-7884.

Maureen O’Nell is executive director of Suncoast Humane Society.


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