Stayin’ Alive is more than a 1970s disco song to Scott Daly, it’s his mission as the executive direc- tor of the Pet Pal Animal Shelter (PPAS) to keep animals alive.
Daly is quick to point out that shelters that euthanize, do so out of necessity. Luckily the percentage of animals acquired from shelters and rescue groups is growing, sadly about 2 million are still killed each year according to the The No Kill Advocacy Center.
Stayin’ Alive is also the theme of this year’s Puppy Love Benefit where Pet Pal staff, supporters and friends will celebrate their success and raise funds vital for future rescue operations.
Formerly known as Pet Pal Rescue, PPAS was founded in the early 1980s by two women in Orlando who rescued animals from shelters and found them permanent homes. In 2002 the non- profit was moved to St. Petersburg, and in 2008 they added a low-cost spay/neuter clinic which is now a veterinary clinic for exams and procedures at affordable rates. They also have a thrift store.
Daly became the director 12 years ago and says little has changed except they take in more animals.
“And we have a lot more adoptions because more people know we are here.”
Their requirements to adopt can be stringent. “We want to make sure that the animals get permanent homes and they’re not flipped around,” says Daly. “So if you don’t own your own home and you rent and the landlord says, ‘No,’ then you can’t have an animal. But some people don’t want to hear that, they want to sneak them in,” he says.
Presents are another problem. While it might be a nice thought, often the person getting the “gift” is not allowed to have an animal.
“Generally when we find a home for an animal, we have a very high success rate, because we are particular and make sure that is what they want.”
It is all about the animals at Pet Pal; so much so that Daly swapped his spacious office for the older cramped cat room. Now there is plenty of room for the felines.
A volunteer leaves with a dog for a walk. Walking dogs requires that volunteers know the animal and the proper procedures. “Safety is our number one concern,” says Daly.
Gracie Grieshop, the marketing guru, greets other volunteers by name throughout the shelter. They have specific areas for sick cats and dogs which must be healthy before they are adoptable.
There is a treatment room for more minor ailments; major issues are treated at the veterinary clinic.
She points through a cage to a big, fat pig outside; his name is Kevin and someone has playfully scrawled “Bacon” below the name. He’s available for adoption as are some finches they rescued.
Each dog kennel has access to an outdoor area for exercise. She greets Otto and other dogs as she walks past the kennels as if they were her own. Kringle is outside and the three-year-old cattle dog/shepherd mix is bursting with energy which Grieshop tries to quell by playing ball with him.
“He is just super frisky. But he’s playing with his mouth and he can’t do that, so we’ll have to work on it.” Their dog trainer Pat McCarthy works with their rescue dogs and she also holds public training sessions.
In the new cat room, the felines are free to roam. “Typically they get along very well and we try to keep it open and healthy,” says Grieshop. They also have adoptable cats at Pandora’s Playhouse in the Pet Food Warehouse on 18th St. N.
There are monthly Yappy Hours at Pinellas Ale Works (PAW). The dog friendly bar hosts the event and donates a dollar from every beer they sell to PPAS. Treasure Island volunteers Mike and Cathy Commons are there showing off Otto, the dog Grieshop greeted earlier. They volunteer at Pet Pal three days a week.
They are also showing their support by attending Puppy Love at The Historic Coliseum. The annual fundraiser will include a silent and live auction, 50/50 raffle, puppy pimping, dinner buffet, photo booth, entertainment by Moving Arts of Tampa Bay, music, and more.
For more information about Pet Pal and Puppy Love go to www.petpalanimalshelter.com.