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Suwannee Paws expands services through large cage donation


On a quiet weekend last December, a very large U-Haul pulled in behind the back of the Suwannee PAWS, Inc. spay/neuter clinic in Live Oak, Florida to deliver approximately 50 donated used stainless steel cages. The cages were a gift from the Forest Capital Humane Society in Perry, Florida and represent a very substantial change in animal housing for the clinic.

The used cages fulfilled the clinic’s number one ongoing need since opening in 2014. It has taken many months of work to order parts and assemble the cages.

“There is no substitute for cages like this in our profession, this expansion of capacity and disinfection ability allows us to book more animals without being as restrictive as we once were for cage space,” according to clinic veterinarian Dr. Tracie Daniels. “We did the best we could with wire cages until now. Our sincere appreciation goes out to FCHS, Catherine Schoenfeld (President and Executive Director), and Jo Ann Parker (Sec/Treas), who made this all possible. In addition, we would like to thank A & A Mini Storage for helping us store these cages.”

More than housing has changed at the clinic. The entire business has gone through a rigorous 6-month transition behind the scenes, which will ultimately mean more services and greater assistance for animals in the Suwannee Valley region. In addition to our county, future outreach is planned for Taylor, Madison, Hamilton, Lafayette, and Dixie counties where programs are marginally existent or nonexistent.

Smokey, rescued from Live Oak Animal Control, steals the picture as members of Forest Capital Humane Society Board of Directors Jo Ann Parker and Catherine Schoenfeld visit the new cages in the cat room. -Photo: Submitted

Suwannee PAWS was approved as a 501(c)(3) federal nonprofit in the Fall of 2016. This makes it possible to receive tax-exempt public donations, grants, and underwriters. Under mounds of forms and late-night work, SPI reorganized its tax structure, refiled paperwork, and started the long-awaited process of applying for grants.

The organization didn’t have to wait long for a little encouragement. One of the clinic’s main goals has always been shelter reform, shelter outreach and provision of greater services for our sheltered pets. Just in time for Spring, the first $5,000 grant was received in April from Maddie’s Fund, which is currently helping to transfer 100 cats from the Live Oak Animal Control shelter facility as part of the clinic’s new Feline Shelter Diversion Initiative. The clinic has helped place over 50 cats since January, over half pulled from the Live Oak shelter, since April. SPI has also donated services to a recent group of dogs at the shelter, and will be assisted by the Friends of Animals organization for part of the cost of their spay/neuter surgeries. SPI has also been accepted as a Network Partner with the Best Friends Animal Society.

Suwannee Paws, Inc. staff 2017 L-R, Christine Diaz, Stacey Meyer, Tracie Daniels, DVM, Judy Wooten, Holli Miller. -Photo: Submitted

The clinic hopes to acquire a few grants by this fall to start bringing some relief to the area. SPI missed most of the usual deadlines while waiting on tax refiling, but it is now caught up and ready to move forward. Additional proposals have been submitted for TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), SNR (Shelter-Neuter-Return), basic pet care assistance, surgical equipment, brand advertising, and several grants were specifically written to assist the Live Oak Animal Control pets with medical care and spay/neuter. Daniels states, “The city should be very proud of the new efforts that are going on at Live Oak Animal Control. If you haven’t been paying attention, you should. By tracking numbers and trying to adhere more closely to state law, together we have made positive strides for animal care and this opens up future grants and donor bases.”

SPI’s Help Suwannee Shelter Pets Project has also been approved by First Federal Bank of Florida and is now a part of their Community Rewards Program (CRP). Anyone with a First Federal card who uses it as a credit (non-PIN entry) will help sponsor a group of 15-20 animals from our local shelter. Please contact 386-362-7990 or visit your local branch to sign your card up to help, program begins June 1, 2017.

Please stop by and see our facility, check us out on Facebook, or on our website. You can also help by shopping at AmazonSmile, or by purchasing a Bissell pet cleaning product. Please contact us for more information.