LIVE OAK — The Live Oak Animal Shelter has made a lot of happy faces — and animals — in the first four months of 2019.

Through April 30, the city’s Animal Control Department posted a 100 percent positive outcome for abandoned or surrendered pets so far in 2019, according to a city release.

The animal shelter brought in or captured 88 animals from Jan. 1 to April 30 — 50 dogs and 38 cats. None were euthanized.

It’s a big improvement from where the shelter was when Jennifer Burleson, the city’s animal control officer, started in July 2016.

“Our shelter had a 98 percent death rate when I started part-time,” said Burleson, who credited the success to the community and partnerships with pet rescues in the region. “We have worked hard to ensure positive outcomes for these companion animals.

“We now return lost animals to their owners, adopt them to new forever homes or transfer them to breed-specific rescues: everything and anything other than kill them.”

There are no nation-wide statistics regarding shelter euthanasia rates, but a Florida law passed in 2013 required all public and private shelters, humane organizations or animal control agencies to record the number and types of animals taken in and the “disposition” of those animals.

“The City of Live Oak also has a great relationship with Suwannee County’s Animal Control Division,” Burleson said in the release. “I can count on Megan Hale to back me up and I am there for here.

“We also share food, toys and other resources to make sure our animals get the best care possible.”

That care includes a partnership with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. UF vet students make monthly visits to the shelter to provide basic treatments and administer vaccinations. It has also brought its mobile spay and neuter bus to Live Oak.

“Additionally, North Florida Animal Rescue is an invaluable resource for us in helping to reduce our population and for being available, at no cost to the city, when we have had animals come in that are in need of emergency medical services,” said Burleson, who was awarded the Animal Advocate Award from the Covenant Pet Trust in 2017.

“Our community really supports our efforts by their willingness to adopt our ‘guest animals’ and by providing us with donations, such as food, toys, blankets and treats. So our success … is due to everyone and their love of animals.”

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