Animal shelter

Manatee Agrees to Own Bishop Animal Shelter in Bradenton


Starting early next year, Manatee County will begin operating the Bishop Animal Shelter with a donation agreement valued at approximately $ 18 million.

Manatee County officials officially accepted the donation from the Bishop Animal Shelter along 59th Street West on Tuesday afternoon. The Mary E. Parker Foundation first announced plans to donate the long-standing animal shelter to the government in February, but the legal contract requires the county to maintain a 90% economy rate.

The save rate of an animal shelter is based on the number of animals that enter the shelter versus the number of animals that a shelter euthanizes for various reasons, such as bites and serious illness. In 2017, Manatee became one of the first counties in Florida to achieve a 90% saving rate, also known as a “no-kill” rate.

The 14.5 acre donation of land includes the new 24,000 square foot shelter at 5718 21st Ave W. Bradenton. the The former bishop’s refuge, originally built in 1958, is also included in the transfer agreement.

“We would be foolish not to accept an $ 18 million gift for a state-of-the-art facility,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a self-proclaimed animal rights activist. “The reason they called us is because we’ve been so successful over the years. “

There are all kinds of bells and whistles in the new facility, including the latest surgical equipment, kennels with improved drainage for quick cleaning, and play areas for animals to exercise. However, the old shelter will have to be partially demolished for repair.

The gift of refuge will save animal lives

These features are in stark comparison to the County Palmetto Shelter, where surgeries take place in a cramped room that was once a closet. Working at Bishop Institution will save time, money and lives, said Sarah Brown, county animal services division chief.

“All of our surgeries will take place there, as well as the digital x-rays, which is a huge bonus for us,” Brown said. “It’s literally a lifeline for us because we have so many trauma cases on the ground. We will be able to resolve these issues immediately, instead of taking them to an offsite vet and hoping they can be suitable for us for an appointment.

If the county fails to meet this savings rate in the future, the donation agreement gives the Parker Foundation the option of taking over the shelter.

“We will work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen,” added Whitmore.

County staff have partnered with the Best Friends Animal Society, a national organization that connects shelters with each other to encourage adoption. This partnership saves lives by allowing overcrowded shelters to send animals elsewhere, preventing them from being slaughtered in order to save space.

“Their shelter is pretty full and ours is pretty full,” said Sarah Brown, the county’s animal services division chief, noting that Manatee will also take control of Bishop’s animal population. “From a space point of view, this is not feasible, so we will rely on Best Friends as a partner to transfer the animals. We are going to branch out and work even harder. Ultimately, it is a community effort. We don’t want to lose this incredible asset.

Donation paves the way for more local philanthropy

A spokesperson for the foundation previously told the Bradenton Herald that the donation deal was a win-win for both parties. As the organization moves away from animal welfare, it will be able to donate to other worthy causes across the county.

Parker died in 2020 at the age of 108. His adoptive parents, Edward and Lillian Bishop, built their family fortunes by partnering with John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Parker generously shared his wealth with a host of local organizations, including the State College of Florida, the Manatee Memorial Hospital, and the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.

“She lived just to donate money. I’ve never been associated with anyone like her, ”said Bob Blalock, CEO of the foundation, in February.

What happens next for the old manatee shelter?

Brown described Bishop’s donation as a change for his department. The Manatee Animal Shelter at 305 25th St. W. in Palmetto has been overcrowded for several years. The facility, first built in 1988, does not have enough space to meet the needs of the county’s growing animal population.

The Palmetto County Shelter will continue to function as a dog adoption center, with the medical team and pound staff based in the new Bishop center.

The Manatee Animal Services Department will also take care of personnel issues. With roughly the same number of staff as the Bishop shelter, the county shelter looks after nearly four times as many animals.

“To put it in perspective, Bishop Animal Shelter has a lot less shelter with just over 1,000 (animals) per year. Ours is closer to 4,000 and close to the same staff allowances, ”Brown said.

Manatee plans to hire seven of Bishop’s employees to continue working at the shelter “to provide better care and reduce the burden on staff,” Brown added.

Commissioners welcomed the shelter into government possession with open arms. They described Bishop’s gift as a victory for animal lovers around the world.

“District 3 couldn’t be happier to have this gift right in the middle of the district,” said Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge. “It’s a fantastic contribution to the county that will help so many animals in the future.”

“This is truly a monumental day,” added Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, before congratulating the county employees who worked to secure the deal. “I am so grateful and proud of you for all the hard work. “

Tuesday’s unanimous vote to accept the donation agreement means the county will begin operating the facility in about 90 days. County staff are preparing for a transition and hope to start using the Bishop shelter by the end of March.

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08/02/21 – The Mary E. Parker Foundation in charge of the Bishop Animal Shelter has agreed to donate the entire operation to Manatee County, including its brand new state-of-the-art facility. Tiffany Tompkins [email protected]

Ryan Callihan is the Bradenton County Herald reporter, covering local government and politics. On weekends, it also covers the latest news. Ryan graduated from USF St. Petersburg.
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