SOURCE: PetSmart Charities

November 12, 2007 10:15 ET

Texas-Sized Help on the Way for Homeless Dogs & Cats

Dallas to Receive Part of $5 Million Grant From PetSmart Charities to Wrangle Pet Overpopulation in Lone Star State

DALLAS, TX--(Marketwire - November 12, 2007) - As part of a major effort to stem pet overpopulation in the U.S., PetSmart Charities has designated Dallas to receive a portion of a $5 million pledge to Texas animal welfare organizations. Dallas animal welfare agency KittiCo Cat Rescue will receive a total of $635,000 in grant funds to expand their spay/neuter clinic and add a mobile "MASH" spay/neuter unit. The pledge, which will be spread over five years, marks the largest financial commitment ever made by PetSmart Charities to the state of Texas.

The goal of the PetSmart Charities Texas spay/neuter initiative is to increase the investment in Texas to $10 million through matching contributions from private donors, corporations, and other foundations. "This $5 million pledge is just the beginning," said PetSmart Charities Executive Director Susana Della Maddalena. "We welcome new partners who share a vision of a Texas where every adoptable pet finds a lifelong, loving home."

"We recognize that dog and cat euthanasia remains at a crisis level across Texas," said Della Maddalena. "Animal shelters in the state's largest cities are where the most homeless dogs and cats are destroyed, averaging nearly 70 percent -- or 176,000 animals each year." PetSmart Charities' primary focus will be to increase spay/neuter and adoption efforts for dogs and cats in Dallas and other major cities, with an overall goal of preventing unwanted births and lowering shelter intake.

"This is the first time in our history that a single state has received this level of focus and support," noted Della Maddalena. "Over the next five years, it is our goal to leverage our commitment with private donors, corporations, and other foundations, to create profound and measurable change toward ending pet overpopulation in Texas," explained Della Maddalena.

PetSmart Charities' research identified Texas as one of the states where animal shelters are forced to destroy the most healthy, adoptable pets simply because there are too many animals and not enough homes. Out of the top 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S. in 2005, greater Dallas-Ft. Worth ranked in the top five for the highest euthanasia numbers. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 homeless dogs and cats enter Texas animal shelters each year. In Dallas-Ft. Worth alone, 119,000 pets find their way to the shelters and 69 percent are euthanized each year.

Texas law requires the sterilization of every dog or cat adopted from an animal shelter. However, only an estimated 20 percent of pets are adopted from shelters, leaving a high number of pets acquired by other means unsterilized. "The biggest barrier to increasing the rate of spay/neuter is the lack of affordable services. We know that our funding will help lower the birth of unwanted pets, lower shelter intake, and ultimately provide agencies with more available resources for managing their shelter populations," said Della Maddalena.

It costs taxpayers as much as $176 to impound, house, and destroy a homeless pet through the Texas shelter system. On average, $40-$80 will spay or neuter the same pet. Not only is prevention kinder than destruction, spaying and neutering saves money and creates healthy communities for animals and people.

About PetSmart Charities

PetSmart Charities, Inc. (PCI) is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues, and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. Since 1994, PCI has granted more than $52 million to animal welfare agencies and, through its in-store adoption programs, has helped save the lives of more than 3.1 million pets. To learn more about how PCI is working to help find a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit www.petsmartcharities.org or call 1-800-423-PETS. To learn more about PetSmart Charities spay/neuter initiatives visit our web site at: www.petsmartcharities.org/programs/spay-neuter.php.

About KittiCo Cat Rescue

Founded in 1998, KittiCo Cat Rescue is committed to improving the lives of homeless cats in Dallas, Texas, and surrounding areas through spay/neuter assistance for low-income owners and feral cat caregivers. The organization has completed more than 40,000 spay/neuter surgeries since its inception.

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