After nearly two decades of finding homes for rescue animals, Animal People, Inc. has closed its doors.
Its future remains uncertain.
Gail Leichliter, 61, ran the nonprofit animal rescue out of her home in Fort McCoy, Fla., with her father.
After he became ill in July, they temporarily closed Sept. 1. She decided she couldn’t maintain the 50 animals in her care.
The Gainesville Pet Rescue jumped in to help. It now hosts Leichliter’s weekly cat adoption venture at the PetSmart on Archer Road.
When her father’s health continued to decline, she reached out to Phoenix Animal Rescue to help find homes for her puppies and dogs.
“The two groups have been phenomenal to help me out,” she said. “We only have about 15 animals left to find homes for.”
The organization still needs funding to pay off veterinary bills and continue to care for its 18 sanctuary animals, Leichliter said.
She said many of her sanctuary animals are older and have special needs, which will make it harder to find them homes.
“If someone would just give them a chance, I know it would be great,” she said.
Cindy Fuentes, a 21-year-old student at the University of Florida, worked with Leichliter from January to May of this year as part of a sales manager class. She said it was an extraordinary experience.
“I have never met a more passionate and selfless person,” she said.
Fuentes said after seeing firsthand how the animals lived, she realized it was a “truly special organization.”
In the meantime, Leichliter is caring for her father around the clock, helping him with walking, dressing and hygiene.
said she is not sure if she can take the rescue on at the size it once was, even though she has “the best volunteers.”
“I’m never going to get out of helping animals,” she said.