Three South Baldwin animal-advocate groups have merged into one and are preparing a donated site for a new shelter and sanctuary for animals on the south end of the county.
Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) groups from Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Foley have coalesced into the Safe Harbor Animal Coalition.
“A South Baldwin shelter and sanctuary is desperately needed and our volunteers have been working on this for over two years,” Safe Harbor Executive Director Stephanie Christie said.
The group is now spearheading an effort to raise funds, equipment and supplies to get its Safe Harbor Animal Shelter and Sanctuary up and running in the coming months. Its location is not being announced publicly because the shelter is still working to get ready to be able to accept animals.
“A local business owner donated the building and others are stepping up to donate in-kind services, supplies and equipment to get Safe Harbor up and running in early 2020,” Christie said. “We are thrilled about our progress. It is truly an answered prayer.”
Christie’s group started its TNR program in Orange Beach in 2017 and soon helped groups from Gulf Shores and Foley start programs there. Feral cats are trapped, spayed or neutered by local veterinarians, marked and returned to the areas they were trapped. If the trapped animal has the mark of already being altered, it is released or returned to the same area where it was trapped.
The three city groups have combined to trap, spay/neuter and release nearly 1,000 cats in South Baldwin County and have found new homes for nearly 300 cats. Christie said during the early days of the Orange Beach program, a need for a shelter for cats and other animals in South Baldwin became apparent.
“The creation of a South Baldwin shelter and sanctuary is a huge step forward to elevating the level of animal welfare in the community,” Christie said. “The free-roaming and unowned animals of South Baldwin need and deserve proper care including spaying and neutering. We know TNR is the only proven, effective method of controlling the otherwise exponential growth in the community of free-roaming cats.”
Now volunteers are needed as the group discovers more and more animals in need through the TNR programs, Safe Harbor Chairman Steve Solomon said.
“We know this is only the tip of the iceberg,” Solomon said. “We have commitments from several local veterinarians who wish to volunteer services to Safe Harbor. Anyone wishing to serve as a Safe Harbor volunteer or partner can message us on Instagram or Facebook at @safeharboral.”
Orange Beach helped start the TNR with a $2,000 donation to buy traps for the program. Gulf Shores, Foley, Baldwin County and Orange Beach all also contributed money to fund a study by Shelter Planners of America to assess needs in South Baldwin. A report from the study is due in early 2020.
“We are thrilled that local animal advocates, business leaders and veterinarians are joining together to address the huge challenge of caring for abandoned and homeless domestic animals in our communities,” Solomon said. “We look forward to working with our local government partners to create a long-term solution to this very real problem.”
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