The mission of the Humane Society of South Mississippi (H.S.S.M.) is to save and enhance the lives of pets through cooperative and innovative approaches to adoption, spay/neuter, sheltering, and community engagement. H.S.S.M. has a track record of success in improving the welfare of the animals in our community and continues to work towards that goal to ensure each animal in our community is appropriately served. H.S.S.M. wants to assure the public that owner surrendered animals are—and have always been—welcomed into the shelter’s care, even with recent changes in the organization’s ability to accept stray animals from the City of Gulfport.
Talks with the City of Gulfport concerning the intake of strays continue, but while the applicable state statutes and city ordinances are a point of contention between the two parties, H.S.S.M. cannot accept stray animals found within Gulfport city limits. This is due to statutory limitations that now apply because H.S.S.M. no longer holds a contract with the City of Gulfport to provide housing services for stray animals picked up within the city limits.
“It has been very emotional for our staff to turn away animals that have always been welcomed here,” said H.S.S.M. Executive Director Tara High, “But we cannot jeopardize those animals we can legally care for by taking in those we are not legally able to accept. We are committed to working towards whatever solution is in the best interest of the animals. That is our priority.”
With the full range of lifesaving services that H.S.S.M. offers, the organization’s actual cost per animal averages $234. This amount represents H.S.S.M.’s lifesaving costs—costs of programs like the Love Train program, which takes excess adoptable pets to shelters in other areas where families are waiting to adopt them, the foster program which places sick, injured, and too young animals into loving homes until they are ready for adoption, as well as services offered to ensure high quality care for the animals in the shelter, such as full-time vets, vet techs, and standardized feeding of high quality food.
In contrast, H.S.S.M. charges the municipalities with which they contract a “life maintenance” cost of $120 per stray animal. The contracted amount is the average cost of care per animal, excluding the costs of H.S.S.M.’s lifesaving programs, regardless of the amount of time each animal stays in the shelter. In addition, although the contracted municipalities pay only a “life maintenance” fee, each of these dogs and cats have access to all of the lifesaving programs H.S.S.M. offers for the extent of their stay at the shelter, whether that stay is two days, two months, or two years.
H.S.S.M. wants to assure the public that owner surrendered animals are—and always have been—welcomed into the shelter’s care. H.S.S.M.’s goal is to provide a clean, safe, loving environment to animals who are in need of our services—especially those whose owners can no longer care for them. This service is core to H.S.S.M.’s mission and has never been included in the fees requested from Animal Control Contracts. Community members needing to surrender their pets to H.S.S.M. are encouraged to call (228) 863-3354 ext. 124 or 125.
Community members who have found stray animals within Gulfport City Limits are asked to contact the Gulfport Police Department Dispatch at (228)868-5900 or Gulfport Police Animal Welfare Shelter at (228)868-5703.