By Martie Thompson
For the past four summers, Florida NewsLine and its family of community newspapers, The CreekLine, Mandarin NewsLine and Ponte Vedra NewsLine, have sponsored a pet supply drive to benefit First Coast No More Homeless Pets. Area businesses sign up to be convenient drop off locations for community members and this year, 20 businesses generously accepted the call. One of the businesses, which also participated last year, is The UPS Store in Murabella at World Golf Village.
“We were happy to participate in the Pet Supply Drive,” said store owner Divyan Patel. “Our community loves pets and they are a very giving community. They always come out when we have a donation drive.”
This year’s pet supply drive netted approximately 400 pounds of dry dog food, 285 pounds of dry cat food, hundreds of cans of cat and dog food, nearly 200 pounds of kitty litter and countless towels, blankets, toys and treats for First Coast No More Homeless Pets.
Founded in 2001 by Rick DuCharme, First Coast No More Homeless Pets began as SpayJax in response to a request by the City of Jacksonville. By 2009, they had opened one of the largest spay/neuter clinics in the country and now average 2,500 spay/neuter surgeries per month, supporting shelters in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and 14 other Florida and south Georgia counties. Their goal is to end the killing of shelter cats and dogs in the community and across the nation.
First Coast No More Homeless Pets also has a Feral Freedom program, which sterilizes feral cats and then releases them back to their territory. The Mega Pet Adoption Events are organized by First Coast No More Homeless Pets three times annually in an effort to keep Florida counties “no-kill.” According to Tanner Ives, Social Media and Communications Manager of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, the most recent event in June featured 19 different shelters and approximately 600 pets found their forever home. Finally, First Coast No More Homeless Pets also maintains the Jacksonville Pet Food Bank, which is where many of the donations from this pet supply drive will go.
“Every six weeks the Pet Food Bank is open to give previously qualified, low income people food for their pets for a month,” said Ives. “The Jacksonville Pet Food Bank has distributed more than 1.4 million pounds of food since it was started in 2012.”
The Jacksonville Pet Food Bank is located at the Cassat Avenue hospital and Ives said besides food, they also distribute kitty litter, pet supplies, treats, and toys on an as-needed basis. An application for qualification may be found on the First Coast No More Homeless Pets website.
The towels and blankets collected in the pet supply drive will be used at the two animal hospitals for animals post surgery. According to Ives, there is a place called “the beach,” where the towels and blankets are used to keep the animals warm as they come out of anesthesia.
Although the Florida NewsLine Pet Supply Drive is concluded for this year, readers many still donate food, supplies and money to First Coast No More Homeless Pets at any time. Visit www.fcnmhp.org for more information on how to donate or volunteer.
Photos by Martie Thompson
Tanner Ives of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, Florida NewsLine bookkeeper Emily Whitehead, Florida NewsLine creative director Julie Gerona and John McFall of First Coast No More Homeless Pets after loading the donated pet supplies into the truck.