Alachua County Animal Services has reached full capacity and is trying to find homes for all shelter pets.
ACAS Shelter Supervisor Jane Grantman said it’s odd that they have reached capacity so early.
“Usually our kennels are more full in the summer months – June, July and August,” she said. “However, for whatever reason, there were more intakes this month.”
In order to alleviate the strain, ACAS will be offering free pet adoptions all day on Saturday, April 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grantman said she hopes that the waived adoption fees will help encourage people to come out and bring an animal home.
“Sometimes the word free just catches their eye and makes them think ‘Oh, let me go down to the shelter on Saturday and look for a pet,’” she said. “That does give people incentive to adopt, or to just come down at least and walk-through our shelter and look.”
The waived adoption fees are made possible by Maddie’s Fund, which offers grants to shelters in order to reduce euthanasia rates.
“Maddie’s Fund is awesome!” Grantman said. “One of the requests we had was that when we’re in these situations, to promote adoptions we can waive adoption fees.”
Maureen Lendzion, who adopted her Pomeranian from an animal shelter, said recommends that everyone rescue or adopt dogs from shelters.
“I would never purchase from a breeder again. I would always go to a shelter. The dogs need homes, and you can find beautiful dogs in the shelters,” she said.
Lendzion said she questions whether the shelter is having trouble adopting animals out or if it’s just that there has been a large influx of pets due to neglectful owners.
Grantman said that ACAS may be to blame for the full shelter problem, but it’s for a good reason.
“At some level, we maintain a rather full shelter because we’re trying to reach a 90% live release rate – we’re trying to reduce our euthanasia, we don’t want to euthanize animals for space – so we hold the animals longer with the hope that eventually they will find homes,” she said.
Robert Crowder, an ACAS volunteer, said that they try to do everything they can to get animals adopted.
“Come out and look at the dogs, play with them. Get them out in the play yard and interact,” he said.
Crowder also said that people shouldn’t judge the dogs by the way they look.
“It’s nice to look at a dog, but until you get down and play with them, you don’t know what that dog’s personality is like,” he said. “It just takes that interaction to bring that out.”
If ACAS is not able to reduce their capacity, then some animals are at the risk of relocation to other shelters, but euthanasia is a last resort.
Grantman said the shelter has learned to maneuver and avoid unnecessary euthanasia in most instances. Free adoption fairs like the one to be hosted on Saturday are just one of the ways they lower their euthanasia rates.
“That’s our goal, to not have to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals,” she said. “We have been really skilled at sending our pleas and temporarily housing animals elsewhere or transferring them to rescue groups that can help us out.”
Crowder, who has three rescue dogs himself, agrees that ACAS does everything it can to avoid euthanasia.
“They have foster parents who can help get dogs out into the community and hopefully get them adopted,” he said. “There are various rescue organizations throughout the state and they will contact them and ask if they are interested in taking any of the dogs up.”
According to Grantman, ACAS has not euthanized any healthy, adoptable animals this year.