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Home for the Holidays

Home for the holidaysI had the opportunity and privilege to sit down with Rick DuCharme, Founder and Executive Director of First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP). We met for lunch at Joseph’s on Main Street. Over lasagna and cal-zones we discussed the exciting future of FCNMHP.

Next weekend December 19th-21st,  FCNMHP will be hosting the final Mega Pet Adoption at the fairgrounds. This provides a one stop place for people looking to adopt a dog or cat. Many of the high risk shelters and rescue groups will be on hand to match you with your next family member. For only a 20 dollar adoption fee you can save two lives, the one you take home and the one that is saved in its place.

As we close in on year’s end and people are making last-minute donations FCNMHP has a fantastic solution. With the generosity of a donor all dollars donated between now and the end of the year will be doubled. This means if you donate 25.00 it will be 50.00 or 50.00 becomes 100.00 and so on. This provides a fantastic opportunity for your dollars to go farther to save lives.

FCNMHP also believes that animal owners should not be forced to decide whether to get their pet the medical care they need. They have an ongoing Angel Fund that through the generous help of its donors provides medical treatment to the homeless as well as those that otherwise would be unable to afford treatment. This program has been a great success and you can read some of the heart warming stories and about Angel Fund on their site.

Recently FCNMHP has been blessed with the opportunity to purchase a new building. This investment will provide the opportunity to serve more of the community and save more lives. The new facility will be located on the west-side of Jacksonville off Cassat Avenue. When the building opens (October 2015) it will potentially be a game changer in the No Kill initiative in all of Northeast Florida. They will continue to provide services at their current location on Norwood Avenue as well.

Another great program is the Pet Food Bank that FCNMHP offers to the community. By members of the community donating cat and dog food to the bank they are able to offer food at no cost to those that qualify. Since the bank opened in 2010 they have distributed over 800,000 pounds of food to the community. If you have a financial need the food bank can provide a month of food for your pets. This prevents more animals from being neglected or abandoned due to financial reasons. The food bank is always accepting donations of both cat and dog food and appreciate any that can be given. Currently there is a shortage on dry cat food.

Currently FCNMHP is able to offer for a limited time Duval Cat Fix where they are offering free spay/neutering to both community and feral cats. They also offer low-cost spay/neuter to all dogs in the community no matter financial ability. By focusing on spaying and neutering both pets and strays in the community FCNMHP is making an impact on the over crowding of the local shelters and rescues. They also can offer regular veterinary services and surgeries generally about 40% less than your neighborhood veterinarian.

In meeting with Rick it was obvious that making a difference in the homeless pet population is his passion. He was enthusiastic when he spoke about the opportunities that the new location will provide. This location will enable the hard work that saves lives to continue to spread out throughout Northeast Florida. His focus is to make a difference not only here locally but nationally. A couple of months ago they assisted Indianapolis with their first Mega Adoption Fair. And currently he is working with New Orleans in creating a similar clinic as what will be built on Cassat in 2015.

All of these efforts would not happen without the help of incredible volunteers. Maybe you would like to help hundreds of pets get home for the holidays this coming weekend. Possibly you  would like to work the food bank, thrift store or community events. Whenever and wherever you would like to donate your time they could use your help. If you are unable to donate your time, they also can use your food, supplies as well as monetary donations. As a community, together we can continue to ensure we are No Kill. By sharing the word with others, the rest of the state and country will follow suit.

About Charles Johnston

Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.