Animal advocates from the Keys to St. Lucie County meet in Juno Beach to address pet homelessness

Organizers say the meeting was unprecedented

PALM CITY, Fla. - Cue tip could live out the rest of his life at the Hobe Sound Animal Protection League 's Cat Sanctuary in Palm City.

He has a good life here, but it's obvious the white, short hair domestic cat would love a forever family.

Cue tip is one of 180 cats at the sanctuary on Caring Fields' Markel Street campus who all make up a growing population of homeless pets.

"The current situation with the economy. More foreclosures," said Susan Hargreaves, Caring Fields education director.

Animal experts say eight million dogs and cats find themselves in shelters in the U.S. each year, and half never come out alive.

The epidemic is so bad, it prompted an unprecedented meeting of animal advocates at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach today.

Hargreaves organized the event to combat pet homelessness.

"Never has this many people gathered in one room in Florida to discuss a problem like this before, from the wide range geographically," said Hargreaves.

More than 20 animal organizations from the Keys to St. Lucie County brainstormed, networked and searched for solutions.

Hargreaves says most have seen the number of shelter animals triple in the past three months.

Jeff Bennett flies abandoned dogs to new homes for Pilots N Paws .

"There's a lot of dogs that have been turned in from all different circumstances … elderly people that can't handle the dogs anymore to people who've lost their homes, etc, and a lot of these dogs are very well trained. People just didn't have the money to take care of them anymore," said Bennett.

Hargreaves is proud of the animal advocates' work, but she says they can't fix the problem alone.

"The only way they're going to get helped is if the community opens their hearts and homes," Hargreaves said.

Cue tip agrees.

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