The south is more deeply affected by pet overpopulation than other parts of the country. Cultural feelings and attitudes towards our pets, spay/neuter, and common misconceptions that shelter pets are “broken” play a large part in the severity of pet overpopulation in the South. This means that the Humane Society of South Mississippi (HSSM), like other animal welfare organizations in the Deep South, has faced unique challenges in overcoming our pet overpopulation crisis here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Since 2006, HSSM has transported 9,000 pets to partner shelters for adoption.
All aboard the Love Train
Love Train is HSSM’s large-scale transport program, which sends excess adoptable pets to partner shelters across the country for adoption. Love Train uses the simple idea of supply and demand; we take adoptable pets from our area (which has a supply of homeless animals that exceeds the demand for them) to communities where spay/neuter ordinances and cultural attitudes have created a demand for adoptable pets in excess of the number of animals entering their shelters.
YES! That’s right there are communities in our country that have gotten pet overpopulation in check so well that they are requesting partner shelters to transport pets to them for adoption!
HSSM has Hurricane Katrina to thank for the invention of Love Train. Prior to the storm, HSSM’s Live Release Rate (the number of pets we save / the total number of pets entering our doors) hovered around 25%, meaning only 1 in every 4 pets was leaving our shelter alive. However, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, animal welfare organizations from across the country sent vehicles to take adoptable pets from our disaster-stricken area to their communities for adoption and HSSM’s Live Release Rate soared to nearly 100%.
So when the disaster response ebbed and the transports stopped, HSSM had a decision to make: go back to no transports and a 25% Live Release Rate or find a way to make this transport program continue for the betterment of South Mississippi’s homeless pets.