By Danielle Spano | Photo by Tanya Consaul

If you are planning to add a furry friend to your life, adoption could be a great option for you. The national database from Shelter Animals Count recorded over 9,500 animals taken in by participating shelters in 2016. As of June 2017, yearly intake was almost 5,000 already. Every day, animals are arriving at shelters, and there is sure to be at least one right for you.

How our local shelters help

A shelter’s main goal is to save unwanted animals’ lives by taking them in and finding them homes. Many of Alachua County’s local shelters rescue animals from Animal Services, saving them from euthanasia, providing veterinary services, food and shelter until they find a forever home. This is no easy task, with thousands of animals needing rescue each year. “2017 was a record breaking year for our organization with 926 adoptions,” Cassie Wheeler, director of Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue, said. “We also started The Kibble Cart that serves the needs of the recipients of the Shands Meals on Wheels Program and their pets.” When families face financial difficulties, their pets suffer as well. Alachua County Humane Society has a similar pet food bank program. Additionally, Alachua County Humane Society offers a low-cost clinic performing vaccinations, testing, microchipping and supplying preventative medications. These shelters house and care for unwanted and displaced animals until they find a home, even if it takes the animal’s entire lifetime.

Deciding to adopt

First, decide what kind of pet you want and head to a local shelter. There are many reputable rescue organizations in the local area. If you have a specific animal in mind, call the rescues to see if they have what you are looking for available for adoption. It is a good idea to attend an adoption event or visit the facilities to get some quality one-on-one time with the animals. You may fall in love with a furry friend that is not at all what you had in mind! The relationship between pet and owner is all about connection, and you may connect with a dog or cat that is not the breed you were seeking. Even if local shelters do not have your preferred breed, color, or age animal available, spend time with the available animals before you beeline for a breeder. Do not miss out on the once in a lifetime bond formed by rescuing a pet!

Shelters typically require potential adopters to fill out an application and even attend an interview. They want to ensure the animals are going to loving, stable homes that are capable of caring for them. Consult with the shelter staff about the animal’s temperament, history, medical needs and how they interact with other animals and children. Be sure your chosen fur-baby will be a good fit for your home, personality and lifestyle before committing to bringing them home. Prior to adopting her cat, Marissa Jespersen brought her family to the humane society to meet him. “Unfortunately, when we got there he didn’t mesh well with our youngest, who was around two at the time,” she said. “We looked around at the other kitties who fit our requirements …we found Freya, who was (named) Courage at the time, and knew right away she was a good fit.”

Oftentimes, the rescue organization will charge an adoption fee. These shelters are non-profit organizations, and the adoption fee helps cover expenses for your animal such as spaying/neutering, microchipping and any other necessary medical attention your pet may need before going home. With so many animals needing homes, the shelters take these precautions to help control the animal population and ensure your new pet does not get lost from its new home.

How can you help?

Rescue organizations work toward creating a society where the rate of animals taken in stops soaring above the number of adoptions. So, how can you help? If you cannot take in another pet or if you are simply not an animal person, you can still support your local shelter. “There are many ways for people to get involved with our organization outside of adopting a pet,” Margot DeConna, director of development for the Alachua County Humane Society, said. “We always need volunteer fosters to temporarily take in animals from our shelter, volunteers to help keep the shelter running seven days a week, supplies or donations to our thrift shop, and even sponsoring some of our pets.”

The main methods of support are donating, volunteering and fostering. Not only do shelters need funds for their many expenses, but they require food and pet supplies as well. Call your local shelter to see if they accept new or gently used animal toys and bedding. Alachua County Humane Society runs a thrift store that contributes heavily to funding the organization. Donate your used pet supplies, furniture, clothing or household items, or volunteer your time by sorting donations or stocking and pricing the items. Shelters need volunteers to transport rescues from Animal Services, walk the animals, clean cages and bedding, help at adoption events and even take pictures of the animals. You can also provide a temporary home for pets. There is not always space at the facilities for the many animals that come in, and instead of turning them away, rescue organizations look for foster families to provide a loving home for pets until they can relocate to the shelter or their forever home. You just open your home and heart and the organization provides the food, supplies and any necessary veterinary care. If you want to show your support to the world, purchase a Florida Animal Friend license plate! Not only will you spread the word, but some of the proceeds go back to worthy rescue organizations. Whether you are looking for a new furry friend for the family or just want to help a pet in need, there are so many ways help local shelters make every displaced animal feel wanted, so reach out to a local shelter today!

Where to Adopt in Town

Alachua County Animal Services

3400 NE 53rd Ave

Gainesville, FL 32609

(352) 264-6870

Alachua County Humane Society

4205 NW 6th Street

(352) 373-5855

Alachuahumane.org

Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue

5231 SW 91st Drive

(352) 505-0302

Hailesangels.org

Helping Hands Pet Rescue

Helpinghandspetrescue@gmail.com

Hhrescue.net

Gainesville Pet Rescue

5403 SW Archer Rd

(352) 692-4773

Gainesvillepetrescue.org

Gainesville Rabbit Rescue

(352) 318-0028

Gainesvillerabbitrescue.org

Plenty of Pitbulls

Gainesvillepitbulls@gmail.com

Popb.org

Second Chance Rescue & Rehoming

(352) 363-1364

Secondchancerescueandrehoming.org

Puppy Hill Farm

(353) 478-1444

Puppyhillfarm.com