TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis was joined by Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Melanie Griffin and Florida animal advocates to discuss ways to improve protections for Florida’s pet population and lower euthanasia rates among animals admitted to a shelter. To watch the press conference click here. Discussion participants included: 

  • Dr. Robert Leonard – Chairman of the Florida Board of Veterinary Medicine 
  • Kate MacFall – Florida State Director of the Humane Society
  • Laura McCann – Executive Director of the Animal Rescue Coalition
  • Amy Frizzell – Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) Assistant Regional Director of Programs

Following the discussion, First Lady Casey DeSantis encouraged stakeholders to implement proposed solutions to continue lowering euthanasia rates and provide families with the resources and education they need to successfully care for their pets. This includes:

  • Increasing awareness of low-cost and free spay/neuter programs in communities.
  • Consideration of waiving renewal fees for licensees for a required number of procedures that are performed as part of a low-cost spay or neuter program.
  • Highlighting the importance of pet adoption throughout the year to help alleviate shelter overcrowding and find pets their forever homes.

“As a life-long pet lover, I know the positive impact our four-legged friends can have on our lives. The statistics on pet euthanasia due to overcrowded shelters are disheartening, and I know that more can be done to save these animals,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “The total euthanasia rate in Florida’s shelters has decreased thanks to efforts to encourage spaying, neutering, and statewide collaboration among shelters, but there is always room for improvement. I was happy to host a discussion with animal advocates across the state to share ideas that help Florida’s families take care of their beloved pets.”

“Governor DeSantis and the First Lady have always been champions for the most vulnerable populations in our state, and this includes our furry friends,” said DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin. “I was honored to be part of the discussion today, learning about pet best practices, cutting-edge spay and neuter technologies, proposed tax exemptions to assist pet owners, and what our state is doing on the ground to get animals out of shelters and into loving homes.”

Governor DeSantis has signed legislation to protect animals in addition to vetoing legislation that would expand harmful animal practices such as the puppy mill to pet store pipeline. That legislation includes:

  • Vetoing Senate Bill 620 in 2022 to ensure that localities could continue to protect animals and consumers from the cruel puppy mill to pet store pipeline.
  • Signing Senate Bill 226 which appropriated $300,000 to FDLE to help with the care of retired police dogs. 
  • Signing House Bill 705 to require counties with designated emergency shelters to designate a pet-friendly shelter in the event of emergency evacuations.
  • Signing Senate Bill 1084 to prohibit discrimination in housing for people who need a support animal.

As part of the Framework for Freedom Budget, Governor DeSantis announced proposed sales tax exemptions that included a one-year tax exemption on pet food, as well as a permanent tax exemption on over-the-counter pet medications. This proposal will provide tax relief to families and build upon other actions the administration has taken to protect pets.

Currently, most counties across the state have clinics with low-cost or free spay/neuter programs and voucher programs with discounts for spay and neuter services. The “Florida Animal Friend” specialty license plate directly supports animal shelters that offer reduced-cost spay and neuter services. Shelters also collaborate closely to ensure that animals are moved from rural to urban shelters, where there is a higher demand for pet adoptions and easier access to veterinary care.

The discussion on best pet practices was followed by a pet adoption event at The Grove Museum in Tallahassee. 


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