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Saving Lives in the Gulf Coast

Groundbreaking spay/neuter initiative spells hope for homeless animals nationwide

Groundbreaking spay/neuter initiative spells hope for homeless animals nationwide

Research showed that Mississippi and Louisiana pet owners said the thought of animals dying moved them more than anything else. BILL PETROS PHOTOGRAPHY
In a city still battling its ghosts, where husks of buildings languish in the shadows of shiny hotels sprouting like pop-up book pages along a highway buried in sand, the lunchroom of the Humane Society of South Mississippi was as likely a place as any to discuss matters of life and death one Thursday last August.

Crowded into plastic chairs near the soda machines, a handful of visitors from Baltimore and Atlanta were going into culture shock. Not because of the devastation that marred the coastline beyond the shelter for 26 miles, though that was jarring enough to see so long after Hurricane Katrina had flattened Gulfport—but because of what was happening, quietly and every day, inside this brightly painted, state-of-the art haven for animals.

The group listened intently as the shelter’s interim spay/neuter clinic director, Kim Staton, described the blue solution that lulls cats and dogs gently into a permanent sleep.

They asked reluctantly about the procedures for placing dead bodies in bags destined for the landfill. They sat mesmerized as Staton explained the numbers: Sometimes 40 to 50 animals die in one day.

“I’ve had all of that that I can handle,” said Staton. “As a human being, I’ve done all of that I can do.”

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