TO THE RESCUE
ANTHONY INSWASTY PHOTOS
Dr. Julie Kittams loves a challenge almost as much as she loves animals. By the way, this little guy would gladly trade his pen for a forever family.
Dedicated volunteers and organizations
come together to reopen animal shelter
The past couple of years have been extremely challenging
BY WENDY DWYER
for everyone and navigating life in a pandemic
has been no easier on those who don’t have
a voice. Those who died from the coronavirus often
left behind beloved pets that had been their constant companions.
When people lost their jobs, not only did it become a
struggle to feed themselves, but often their pets suffered from
scarcity and shortage, too.
Fortunately, despite a worldwide pandemic wreaking havoc
on life as we all knew it, Dr. Julie Kittams and a small band
of dedicated and passionate animal lovers came to the rescue
and since then, more than 1,600 animals can see a glimmer of
hope for a better, longer life.
In March, the newly created nonprofit organization,
Sunrise Humane Society, took over the operation of the
former Humane Society of St. Lucie County and its shelter
on Savannah Road in Fort Pierce. Not only did the crew from
SHS inherit a shelter that had undergone renovation but was
still in need of additional repairs and renovation, it also had
to struggle with trying to rebuild the trust and respect of the
community it serves.
Five years earlier, Kittams, a veterinarian who hails from
Alaska but fell in love with the Florida sunshine, used her
savings to create a nonprofit organization called Operation
SOS Sterilization Outreach Services, a mobile low-cost spay/
neuter clinic that has sterilized more than 15,000 dogs and cats
in St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties since its inception.
“It took that long for us to become financially stable,” Kittams
says of Operation SOS. “During that time, 60 percent
of the sterilizations we did were on rescue animals and 40
percent of our time was helping serve the general public.
“We connected with so much of the animal rescue com- >>