Starting Thursday, Nov. 1, residents will have plenty of opportunities to adopt an unwanted dog or cat from Hillsborough County Animal Services.
In what it's calling its 10-7-7 plan, the animal shelter will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"This is a big deal," said Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan. "This not only will allow us to adopt more animals but it will allow pet owners to search for their lost pets at our shelter immediately."
It also permits residents like Sue Green of Apollo Beach more chances to volunteer at the county animal shelter.
"I just love animals and I enjoy working with them at Animal Services," said Green. "It's so rewarding to see a dog or cat get a new home."
Ryan said Green is among a cadre of volunteers who provide much-needed support to Animal Services.
"Without our volunteers, we would not be able to offer these extended hours," she said
She added that more volunteers are always needed, especially with the extended hours.
"We especially need customer service volunteers to work at the front office providing help with lost pets and adoptions," she said.
An orientation for volunteers interested in doing customer service will be held Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Animal Services, 440 Falkenburg Rd., Tampa.
For those wishing to perform other volunteer duties, such as helping to bathe and groom animals, exercising dogs, helping with veterinary exams, taking photos of the pet for the website and escorting lost pets to their owners, an orientation is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8 at 10 a.m.
To register, contact Terrie DiSalvo at email@example.com or 813-612-8416.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years old. You must be 16 years old to volunteer. Minors must be accompanied to orientation by a parent or legal guardian. A volunteer application form can be found on the Friends of Hillsborough County Animal Services website.
Animal Services Director Ian Hallett added that hours are being extended using existing staff so volunteer help is especially appreciated.
Currently, the shelter is closed on Mondays and closes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"In order to do this, it's going to take a lot of volunteer help," he said. "But I feel really confident that all of that can be solved and I think this will help us adopt more animals out and help owners find their lost pets.
"And I feel that the advantage of having everybody know that the hours are exactly the same every single day will reduce any doubt somebody might have about whether we're open or not," Hallett said. "So I'm very excited about it."
To kick off the new 10-7-7 schedule, Animal Services staff is inviting the public to stop by the shelter on Nov. 1 for a festive yappy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. to meet Ian Hallett, enjoy some refreshments and see some of the animals at the shelter. meet-and-greet with shelter animals, and enjoy some refreshments.
Residents who don't want to wait until November to adopt a pet can take advantage of the shelter's October special for Adopt a Dog Month. Animal Services is adopting all dogs 30 pounds and over for $30 throughout the month.
And for Veterans Day Nov. 11, the shelter will be open and will offer all active and retired military members half-priced pet adoptions.
For more information about pet adoption or volunteering at Hillsborough County Animal Services, call 813-744-5660.