MILTON — Santa Rosa County Animal Services recently launched a barn cat program to place hard-to-adopt animals in a safe and comfortable habitat.

The program was designed, according to the shelter, to place healthy cats into safe living spaces such as a barns, warehouses or factories to help catch rodents. Cats would be fully vetted, including spay or neuter, feline HIV and leukemia tests, rabies vaccinations, feline respiratory virus vaccinations, as well as worm and flea treatments.

Dora Thomason, the shelter's director, said the idea of the barn cat program came about after they did some research into what other area shelters were doing to help find forever homes for animals.

"Barn cat programs have been successful in other communities and, given the strong agricultural community, it should be a good fit for our county," Thomason said. "(It would also be) an environmentally friendly way to control a rodent population."

Since rolling out the program in May, Thomason said they have been able to successfully place three cats into facilities. She said they plan to place more cats into facilities and if any residents are interested in a barn cat, they can call 850-983-4680 and get on the list for the next available one.

While the shelter is pleased with the barn cat program, they said they plan to do other types of themed adoption events in the future.  

"The shelter’s goal, with the help and coordination of our volunteers, is to facilitate more off-site adoption events that will get more exposure to the pets available for adoption," Thomason said. "A day at an adoption event is a win-win for our pets as they get the social activity and interaction as well as the exposure they need to find a forever family."