Donations sought for vet bill balance by June 1
By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- If a veterinary bill for a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter isn't paid up by June 1, the shelter may have to stop taking in animals in need.
Since 2006, HALO Rescue in Sebastian has partnered with Florida Veterinary League to care for the medical needs of animals brought into the shelter and waiting for forever homes. In April however, HALO received notice that their $14,000 floating balance needed to be paid by June 1, because of company policy changes.
Without the cash, the shelter would likely have to stop accepting animals into their care that have grave medical needs, leaving them to be taken to other animal shelters, or simply dumped on the side of the road, staff said.
An online donation drive and word-of-mouth reports of the financial need has raised $5,000 and business members of the community are stepping up to hold fundraisers and donate proceeds to the animal shelter, said Jacque Petrone, founder and operator of the Sebastian no-kill shelter.
Ms. Petrone visited the nation's largest sanctuary for abused and homeless animals, Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City, last month. Her visit inspired and invigorated her to continue to pursue her dream of a county where all of the unwanted animals would have a safe place to stay until they are adopted. When she came back however, the letter from the Florida Veterinary League caused her heart to sink.
The reason given for the change in company policy for open balances, and an increase in fees for services is the cost of running the facility, a letter from the Florida Veterinary League said.
"I completely understand where they are coming from, it's just a very sudden change in procedure and it's something we have to get a handle on," Ms. Petrone said. "But if we can't pay it off, we can't bring more animals in."
A great majority of the animals surrendered to HALO are either "senior" animals or animals with medical needs too costly for their owners.
"A huge percentage of our animals are in severe medical need. We can't hold them in a cage without care, so we would have to stop intake," Ms. Petrone said.
Missy the Maltese is one example of an animal in need, not only of a home, but expensive medical care.
Her hernia was treated by the Florida Veterinary League, and her medical bill alone will likely be close to $800, while her adoption fee is only $130, Ms. Petrone said.
Missy is 13 years old, but her age doesn't stop the staff at HALO from making her life as healthy and vibrant as possible.
Ms. Petrone said she doesn't believe that an animal's life or death should be measured by how much it costs to fix their issues.
"She's going to go into a home and be loved and live out her life for as long as that may be. We just don't put a cap on it," Ms. Petrone said.
The two scheduled fundraisers for HALO are May 13 at J.J. Manning's Irish pub in Sebastian and May 28 at Captain Hiram's in Sebastian.
A portion of the proceeds from the events will go toward helping HALO pay off their vet bill.
HALO Rescue is located at 710 Jackson St in Sebastian. To make a donation, or for more information about HALO Rescue, call (772) 589-7297 or visit www.halorescuefl.org.