Before First Coast No More Homeless Pets entered the picture, dogs and cats who found themselves in a Jacksonville, Fla., animal shelter faced a bleak future. Of the 33,000 animals who walked through a shelter door in 2002, 23,000 were euthanized.
First Coast founder Rick DuCharme set out to change those sobering stats, cashing in his retirement savings to start what today is one of the nations’ largest spay/neuter facilities. First Coast also operates a low-cost veterinary clinic and a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, in addition to other programs designed to keep pets in their loving homes and out of shelters. As a result of these efforts, Jacksonville shelter admissions have been cut in half, and last year, just 719 animals were euthanized.
Today, First Coast has a two-fold mission: supporting low-income pet owners, so they can keep their dogs and cats in their homes and out of shelters, and providing low-cost spay/neuter services, especially for feral and community cats.
“Many pet owners come to us after being turned away from other clinics because they couldn’t afford the care,” explains Mollie Malloy, director of grants for the Florida non-profit. “Because of our programs, these dogs and cats can thrive in their homes.”