Building Humane Communities

Building Humane Communities

for Dogs and Cats

Sean Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, SPCA Florida


SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering and to engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals. However, the prevention of cruelty to animals and caring for homeless dogs and cats is not a job we can accomplish alone; it requires a new level of involvement. By working outside the walls of buildings on SPCA Florida’s campus, located at 5850 Brannen Road South in Lakeland, Florida, we are creating a new vision, “Healthy Animals, Humane Communities.”

Side to Side

Core to SPCA Florida’s new community engagement is the implementation of Safety Net retention programs. The goal of Safety Net is to provide alternatives for dog and cat relinquishment to animal shelters – keeping animals who have homes from entering the already overburdened shelters in our county and helping those newly adopted animals remain in their adoptive homes. SPCA Florida has developed programs that enlist citizens as allies in keeping animals safe and out of shelters. By creating the Safety Net, we save animal lives while educating the community in a meaningful, supportive way about the responsibilities of pet ownership. Initiatives like Community Cat programs and Thank Dog! Bootcamp® provide pet owners the resources and support they need to fulfill their responsibilities to the animals in their lives.

Community Cat programs are part of our Safety Net. These services include free spaying, neutering, identification, and rabies vaccinations for un-owned cats brought to SPCA Florida’s Animal Medical Center in a humane trap. Science tells us that managing community cats through humane trap-neuter-return programs is solution-oriented to limiting cat populations and keeps homeless kittens from entering shelters. Given there are over 300,000 community cats in Polk County, the public’s participation is essential in addressing overpopulation. SPCA Florida loans citizens humane box traps free of charge (a refundable deposit is required) and SPCA Florida will provide instructions on how to best trap and care for Community Cats. After the cats are spayed or neutered, identified, and vaccinated, the animals are returned to their care-givers to be released back into a managed environment only on private land. Information about spaying or neutering Community Cats can be obtained by calling our Animal Medical Center at (863) 646-4647 seven days a week.

Group Exercise

Another new SPCA Florida Safety Net program is Thank Dog! Bootcamp, a fitness program where dogs are your workout partners. SPCA Florida is the first animal shelter in the United States to offer this program, which is core to our mission of creating and enhancing life-long homes for adopted dogs and cats. Thank Dog! Bootcamp is a fun and challenging workout led by certified professionals (both dog trainers and personal fitness coaches) to stimulate the mind, focus on the body, and create a soulful connection that enhances the human – animal bond. Volunteers from the community exercise with shelter dogs, and new families adopting dogs from SPCA Florida can join in the fun. The program not only promotes health and fitness for animals and people, but basic obedience skills make shelter dogs more adoptable, and increased activity between dogs and their new adoptive families helps keep dogs who have homes in those homes. Visit www. bootcamp to volunteer or to register with your dog adopted from SPCA Florida.

For 34 years, SPCA Florida has provided sheltering and care for homeless animals and, more recently, state-of-the art veterinary medical services for dogs and cats in the community. In support of our new vision, we are asking all Polk County residents to take an active part in the welfare and well-being of animals. Our new commitment is to create humane communities for animals and the people who love them. Please join us in our mission of spreading caring, compassion and hope across a Humane Florid


Leave a Comment