By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- Technically spring hasn't even sprung, but at a local animal rescue, the stork has already brought two litters of tiny puppies who need homes.
In one box, five tan and white boys with their all white sister squirm together, literally in a good old fashioned dogpile, to stay warm and seek comfort from each other after only two weeks of being in this big new world.
With their tiny soft ears just popping out, and their eyes not yet opened, it's easy to fall in love with the little boxer-bull terrier mix puppies. Their mewling little cries and kicks at being separated from one another, and their constant mission to find something to eat is both precious and amusing to watch.
"The nonprofit Helping Animals Live and Overcome Rescue received the puppies when they were one day old and they have been bottle-fed around the clock since their arrival on Valentine's Day," said Jacque Petrone, owner.
HALO Rescue is a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter in Sebastian that accepts animals as space becomes available for them.
"The same day, an unwanted litter of six slightly older Chihuahua puppies were also brought in and are currently being fostered by a volunteer until they are old enough to be adopted," Ms. Petrone said. "All of the Chihuahuas have been spoken for, as has the female boxer/bull terrier mix."
Puppies and kittens are soft, cute and cuddly, but with every springtime, animal shelters like HALO have to brace themselves for the inevitable deluge of tiny four-legged animals.
"It's not a myth, it really is true what they say about animals in springtime," Ms. Petrone said.
And the sad thing is that these puppies and kittens, though adorable, are most often unplanned and therefore unwanted, and they are sent off to an animal shelter or left somewhere to fend for themselves.
"It's not that I don't believe in puppies, I love them, but the whole process of people who don't fix their animals keeps the overpopulation going," Ms. Petrone said.
Many people don't spay or neuter their pets because they think it costs hundreds of dollars, but that isn't always the case.
HALO Rescue has a special spay and neuter voucher program in partnership with the Florida Veterinary League in Vero Beach. All a pet owner has to do is come to the animal shelter and request a voucher and then they can set up an appointment with Florida Veterinary League, Ms. Petrone said.
About 65 percent of the animals that come into the shelter are not fixed, Ms. Petrone said.
"There aren't any pre-qualifying factors to the voucher program at HALO Rescue because the mission of the shelter is to benefit the health of all animals, no matter their situation," she said. "Being spayed or neutered can help a pet avoid major health issues such as testicular and ovarian cancer."
Cats are $40 to spay, $30 to neuter, and dogs are $50-$60 to spay, depending on weight, or $40-$50 to neuter, again based on weight.
HALO Rescue is located at 710 Jackson St., Sebastian. For more information ,call (772) 589-7297 or visit www.halorescuefl.org.