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Keep shelters from overflowing

On a wooded parcel in the unassuming rural community of Wirtz, nestled between a mountain and a winding lake, Roxannie Harvey pours heart and soul into fulfilling a vision: seeing that intelligent but otherwise defenseless domestic creatures can find a home.

Harvey runs Freedom’s Last Chance, which she started a decade ago with a driving goal to make sure stray cats are not left to their own devices, likely starved or preyed upon in the wilds of Franklin County.

As someone who grew up on a farm, Harvey tells the story of early on developing a fondness for animals, later seeing them in distraught conditions, and she brims with compassion for them in her adult life. We hope pet lovers all over the county can find it possible to help Harvey out in her mission to save the animals by helping financially or to adopt some of them. Even more so, it would greatly help to make sure pets aren’t able to reproduce if the offspring wouldn’t have a happy and safe home.

To reduce the overwhelming numbers of unwanted felines, Freedom’s Last Chance, operated out of a small Shelter in Wirtz, is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to tamping down on euthanasia rates in Franklin County by slowing the overpopulation of cats.

Freedom’s Last Chance offers a free spay and neuter program for cats and dogs, along with pet food assistance and a program to educate people on how to prevent and stop the suffering of cats, according to a report Wednesday by Franklin News-Post reporter Julissa Hill.

“I’m never going to stop rescuing,” Harvey said. “I became a nonprofit to help people and save the animals. I’m just a person that felt like I had to help.”

The spay and neuter voucher program for cats and dogs is made possible by donations, fundraisers and grants; vouchers cover the surgery, pain medications, rabies vaccine and microchips with participating veterinarians in the region.

According to the story, Freedom’s Last Chance has also saved numerous pets from having their owners place them in shelters or being abandoned because of a lack of food with the food assistance program.

Harvey has been working to save animals for more than three decades and currently shelters an amazing number of cats – nearly 80 – along with her husband at the facility in Wirtz. Also, the organization she founded hosts fundraisers throughout the year. Monies raised go toward upkeep of the animals at Freedom’s Last Chance, as well as the spay and neuter program.

This local nonprofit is helping make a dent in its small way against a national problem.

According to American Humane, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that works to ensure the safety and welfare of animals, pet overpopulation comprises two factors: letting cats and dogs reproduce with little chance to find homes for the offspring, and pets being relinquished by owners who can no longer keep their animals or no longer want them.

Every year millions of cats and dogs are euthanized in the nation’s shelters, the group says. Combating overpopulation can involve several actions, American Humane points out:

“Always spay and neuter your pets.

“Always adopt your pets from a legitimate shelter or nonprofit rescue group.

“Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.

“Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.”

Right here in Franklin County we have a chance to make a big difference against this national problem as it’s reflected in our neck of the woods. Programs like Freedom’s Last Chance and the Franklin County Humane Society make inroads by taking in stray and relinquished animals and protecting them from euthanasia through no-kill policies. Franklin County Animal Control, while euthanizing when necessary, does its part on behalf of taxpayers by sheltering as many unfortunate animals as it can. But as we have noted in recent months, these facilities are really at capacity these days.

We hope as many residents as possible take advantage of the programs by these organizations as they ensure animals are fed and safe while they wait for new homes.

They need our support both financially and through adoption.

But most importantly, we need to keep the populations of animal shelters from bubbling over to infeasible levels in the first place, practicing responsible pet ownership – mainly, by spaying and neutering.

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