A group of devoted compassionate citizens who cared about improving the welfare of animals in Sumter County teamed up and merged the Humane Society and the SPCA to create the Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County, Inc., aka "The Society" when our Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.
We focused on the prevention of cruelty to animals and financial assistance to Sumter County residents with restricted incomes for the spaying and neutering of their pets.
Registered with Florida State Agencies: Florida Dept. of State, Florida Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Consumer Services, Florida Dept. of Revenue. At this time the organization was composed of just ten volunteers.
Applied for and received 501(c)3 status from the IRS which exempts our Society from paying income taxes and donations can now be tax-deductible from their income tax.
The Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) was formed under the leadership of Ronnie Graves, where members received mandatory training by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and could be called up by Florida State Emergency Management when needed. Sheri Evans became ESF (Emergency support function) Disaster Animal Response Coordinator.
Our DART Team's first deployment was to the fires in eastern Florida. Our small team managed to rescue nearly 700 animals.
The Society provided food for all the pets housed at Sumter County Animal Control for years starting in the late 1990’s to approximately 2007. We did this so the County would give us the opportunity to try to transfer animals out being they had an extremely low save rate.
The Society began focusing more on saving animals that were homeless, abused or neglected and increased efforts in cruelty investigations. Fostering and adoption programs and volunteer orientations were developed.
The Society purchased five acres of land in Lake Panasoffkee for a future shelter. A 20’ x 30’ shed was erected to store pet food, kennels, and donations of goods for our small Bushnell thrift store.Both were thanks to the help and generosity of Ronnie and Linda Graves.
Necessary upgrades began at the Sumter County Animal Control facility due to influential persuasion of the Society. The county built its first shelter for cats in 2003 and budgeted for a dog shelter in 2004. The Society created “Kibbles on Wheels” a free pet food pantry for Sumter County’s qualified residents with limited incomes to help keep pets with their families.
The Society rescued and provided food, shelter and medical care for 500 animals. Our volunteer Certified Cruelty Investigator, Sheri Evans, was appointed by the Sumter County Commissioners as agent for investigating animal violations. She devotedly served in this role for 12 years, handled 260 cases and assisted in the first case prosecuted in Florida under the new state animal fighting laws.
The Society’s DART unit was deployed to Punta Gorda and remained for over two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley while at home, the Society rescued and cared for 113 animals. We evacuated our animals four times to safer quarters because of multiple hurricanes that year.
The Society worked with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office impounding over 500 animals, mostly fighting roosters-2004.
The Society installed the infrastructure for our future shelter (parking lot asphalt, septic, well, telephones, creation of website, etc.) thanks to the help of volunteer Dave Starnes. We erected the donated classroom for our office and educational center named the Kathleen Mulholland Office/Teaching Library in memory of our first humane educator.
Our DART unit was deployed to southern Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for a month. At home, we rescued and cared for 214 animals.
Our entire five acres was fenced. We rescued and cared for 208 animals. Due to growing need, the Society requested and received the appointment for a second Animal Cruelty Investigator.
The Society’s DART unit rescued animals in The Villages and surrounding areas in the aftermath of the deadly February tornados. Grants funded our first paid worker and our first "Big Fix " Free Spay/Neuter event for early 2008.
Animals rescued and cared for totaled 250.
The Society took on our largest horse cruelty case involving 32 horses and many other neglected animals on one Oxford property while already caring for 10 horses in our custody during the worst economic crash in recent times and greatly challenging our nonprofit.
The Society constructed our new "green" barn to provide a safe haven for rescued livestock thanks to supporters Richard Coolbeth, Cullison-Wright Construction Corp. and the Mary Jane Schade Trust.
Our Volunteer of the Month public recognition promotions began.
The Society added a "Get Off Your Cans" aluminum recycling fundraising program in a continued effort to be green and leave less of an environmental footprint.
After converting our on-site buildings with climate control and kennels, our adoptable animals were housed and met by the public on our five-acre campus which led to a great increase in our adoptions.
The Society transferred cruelty investigations to the County.
Humane educational presentations reached hundreds of local children as well as local adults new to Sumter County.
The Society voluntarily agreed to partner with Sumter County Animal Services (SCAS) in a mutual effort to increase the Live Release Rate (LRR) of the dogs and cats held at the County facility and improve their adoption opportunities.
In conjunction with our investing in facility upgrades, we were awarded the 100th Rescue Rebuild project by GreaterGood.org which provided a new
“Catty Shack” housing area for our adoptable cats, new HVAC systems for both our Kitty Quarantine and House of Paws dog housing areas as well as renovations to have separate quarantine housing for dogs and cats. Additionally, we received a new agility course with new equipment and shaded areas.
A pole barn was generously donated by long-time supporters Ronnie and Linda Graves.
We evacuated our animals to safer quarters in advance of Hurricane Irma.
184 dogs and 204 cats belonging to 133 Sumter County families were fed via our "Kibbles" Free Pet Food Pantry and 874 pets were able to be spayed/neutered via our "Big Fix" free voucher program.
Our agreement with Sumter County Animal Services, adoption promotions, transports and transfers by local animal advocates and allied rescue groups have all made more than 900 at-risk animals receive life-saving chances at happiness.
The Society adopted out 601 animals and transferred 149 animals to other no-kill rescues and returned 8 animals to their owners. We arranged adoptions for 54 animals and transfers to no-kill rescues for 893 more directly out of Sumter County Animal Services.
Sumter County officials committed to achieving and maintaining a 90%+ Live Release Rate going forward, and after three years of the partnership with the County, we ended the voluntary partnership. Campus-wide renovations and expansions began as the Society experienced further growth.
76 qualifying Sumter families received a grand total of over 20,000 lbs. of free dry dog/cat food from our "Kibbles" Free Pet Food Pantry to feed their 85 cats and 102 dogs who will not go hungry or be at risk of surrender, euthanasia or abandonment.
The Society was awarded a $20,000 grant investment from the Petco Foundation to support its "Big Fix" Free Spay/Neuter Voucher program for approx. 200 dogs and cats of qualifying low income Sumter residents. 758 free "Big Fix" spay/neuter vouchers were redeemed to help reduce the homeless pet overpopulation.
The Society began utilizing the DBA of "YOUR Humane Society SPCA" as part of a rebranding for our community to have a sense of ownership in our lifesaving efforts.
Addition of a larger free standing Kitten Wonderland center wasdonated by volunteer Louise Rodey.
The Funtime Follies Dog Play Yard, in memory of Jim and Kim Krum, will renovate exercise yards for our shelter's dogs and the Jackie Banbury Cat Sanctuary project began.
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic posed a great challenge to safely continue our work but we implemented many adjustments in order to meet the needs of our community and stay safe. All in-person adoption events were canceled and fundraising events became virtual for at least the next 24 months.
Addition of the Ralph Edmonds Memorial Canine Quarantine Unit donated by Joyce Edmonds expanded our intake ability by 25%.
Delayed ribbon cutting ceremonies of the new Kitten Wonderland and "Ralph's Place" took place at an Open House near the end of the pandemic.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, we provided 700+ "Big Fix" Spay/Neuter vouchers in 2021 in our commitment to reduce the homeless pet overpopulation in Sumter County.
This program is now based on a sliding scale with household annual incomes of $25,000 or less or who are on government assistance (i.e.welfare, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), disability or Medicaid).
We are celebrating our 40 Year Anniversary! This year we are adding a new office building to double our space and provide a much better environment for both our employees and the public. The new space includes a private intake room and a much needed conference room to hold meetings, seminars and training.
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