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Don’t shop, adopt

Story by: Klaudia Balogh and Cait Schall

Husband and wife Ron Milam and Sherry Sako adopted Beauregard, a five-month old Puggle, this past summer from Gulf Coast Humane Society. Three months later, in September, they were back to get him a sibling.

“I haven’t had a puppy for 15 years,” Sako said, as she was holding Dixie, the two-month-old puppy that Sako thinks will be a perfect little sister for Beauregard.

Unfortunately, not all dogs and cats are this lucky. GCHS takes in more than 1,000 animals — mostly cats and dogs — every year that are in need of compassionate care. Dogs’ ages range from a few months to 10 years old. With limited facility space and manpower, the organization relies heavily on volunteers.

Kelly Legarreta, the director of volunteer services, said there are about 1,800 volunteers in the system, but out of those, only a couple hundred are active helping out with dog walking and cat socialization.

Dog lover Connie Heard has three dogs at home and has been volunteering at the society since early September. “It’s just really rewarding for us volunteers,” she said.

The organization does everything to make sure the shelter doesn’t have the feel of a prison. Volunteers and staff walk the dogs at least four times a day, play with them at the outside play yards and give them as much attention as possible. As for cats, they have a free roaming area that opens to a lanai, so they can freely play around inside and outside; they are not locked in tiny cages.

Jennifer Galloway, the executive director, said the shelter finds it important to give as much freedom and comfort to animals as possible.

“The dogs are more ought to show their true personality when they are in a comfortable setting,” Galloway said.

If you are interested in volunteering, fostering or adopting a pet, do not be shy to apply and reach out to the GCHS. Just spending a few hours at the shelter, you will feel the rewards of making a pup or kitty happy for that day, or in case of adoption, for the rest of its life.

For more information, visit gulfcoasthumanesociety.org.

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