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Hutchison tapped to take over Manatee County Animal Services

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – Earlier this week, Manatee County administrators announced big changes in leadership for Animal Services -- a department recently plagued with controversy and allegations.

One goal of the new leadership is to partner with private organizations to continue the success of the county's no kill animal shelter program.

The new head of Animal Services, Bill Hutchison, announced this week that it's going to take the partnership of community and rescue organizations to turn things around.

Local rescue groups say they're determined to help continue the more than 90% save rate the county has reached since the no kill program began in 2011. "Unifying the community, including Manatee County Animal Services, working with them to make a real sustainable difference and really achieve no kill," says Debra Starr of Animal Network, Inc.

They've come together under the name Manatee United for Pets, and they're already uniting to raise funds and sponsor joint events. "If you look around the country and do any research at all into the programs around the country where it is successful, where they have achieved sustainable no kill, they all have one thing in common: the whole community is in on it," says Starr.

Bishop Animal Shelter is just one of nearly a dozen organizations that are part of the group and its effort. "I'm hoping everything's going to be for the good. You've got to keep positive and keep thinking everything's going for the positive part of it," says Gail Judah.

Bishop says the top priority in maintaining a successful no-kill program is adoption. "Because there's so many unwanted animals that are in shelters and rescues right now, they all need permanent homes. They need their forever homes and that's what we're here for."

Saturday the rescue organizations will unite for Parachute for Paws, the first of many adoption events in an effort to continue the success of the no-kill program in Manatee County.