TALLAHASSEE, FL — At a roundtable event held outside of the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday afternoon, First Lady Casey DeSantis highlighted her commitment to Florida animals with her “Florida Pets” adoption event.
The event featured a handful of adorable puppies who ran around the lawn donning pink bows, waiting to get adopted.
“I’ve had the unique ability to be able to help those in need, specifically children and families. And today that extends to our four-legged friends,” Casey DeSantis began.
The first lady said that when entering office, there were about 360,000 pets across Florida shelters but the euthanasia rate was at about 12 percent. “So we wanted to see what we could do to lower that,” Casey DeSantis said in a humble speech where her love and care for vulnerable pets was apparent.
“This is not about me. But what do you do when you’re given the opportunity to be able to make a difference? If it means that I can call on folks from all over the state to come together and collaborate in the best interest of our pets – by golly I’m going to do it,” she said.
Casey DeSantis took the time to highlight some of the first-of-its-kind pet legislation that Governor DeSantis has passed during his time in office, including the PAWS Act, which is a five-year pilot program that provides service dogs to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Additionally, in 2020, Governor DeSantis signed SB 1082 – prohibiting housing discrimination for people who require animal support. He also signed HB 705, which requires certain counties to designate a shelter for persons with pets to evacuate to in the event of an emergency.
Moreover, last year the governor signed SB 226, which established the Care for Retired Police Dogs program to help fund veterinary care for first responder canines.
This year, the governor has proposed a tax package that would provide a one-year tax exemption on pet food for household pets and a permanent tax exemption for over-the-counter pet medications such as flea and tick prevention.
“These are some of the things we can do legislatively for pet owners and their pets. At the end of the day, it’s about animals in shelters finding their forever homes and then working to bring down the euthanasia rates,” Casey DeSantis added.
“FLORIDA SUPPORTS PET FAMILIES"
The first lady was joined by Secretary Melanie Griffin of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who has been working with the governor to increase the available number of veterinarians in the state.
“The nation is facing a critical shortage of veterinarians, and we’re working to change that,” Griffin said, highlighting a wide array of initiatives and incentives.
“Florida is a state that supports pet families and I’m so grateful we’re working on tangible solutions to get pets adopted and healthy,” she concluded.
Griffin was followed by Dr. Robert Leonard, Chairman of the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine, and Kate McFall, the Florida State Director of the Human Society of The United States – all of whom applauded the first lady’s efforts to protect Florida’s pets.
The roundtable was followed by an even larger adoption event held at the Grove, where dogs and cats played with guests while they waited to get taken home.
Several local rescue groups provided information regarding pet adoption and collected much-needed pet supplies including wet and dry dog food, puppy pads, kitten and puppy milk replacement formula – and more.