The Humane Society of North Central Florida is gradually taking in more animals as businesses in Alachua County reopen.
The Humane Society pushed fostering when the stay-in-place order was announced in March. Margot DeConna, the director of advancement, said she is not sure if adoptions will surge following that push to foster. Regardless of the outcome of the increased fostering, adoptions from mid-March to the end of May exceeded The Humane Society’s expectations.
“We’ve hit 300 adoptions since we first went into quarantine,” DeConna said. “That’s exceeded our expectations for how many adoptions we would be able to accomplish under these circumstances.”
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the staff, DeConna said, “We’re very pleasantly surprised by how many animals we’ve helped find forever homes for during this really weird, unprecedented period of time.”
Adopters can finalize the adoptions online or over the phone, but they must still schedule an appointment to meet the pet beforehand.
“We’re still trying to find ways to get animals into homes, which is our ultimate goal, but obviously it’s not occurring at the same volume as if we were open to the public like normal,” DeConna said.
The Humane Society made adoptions free for fosters, but DeConna does not think adoptions will truly increase until they can go back to regularly scheduled adoption events. These events include the Humane Society’s typical operation hours of Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the North Campus and Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the South Campus for adoptions and their time at PetSmart on Saturday and Sunday.
Even as the Humane Society takes in more pets, it is still trying to send as many pets into foster homes as possible.
“Ultimately, animals do better in a home environment than a shelter, so as long as people are willing to open their homes to these pets, we’d rather them be there than in our shelter,” DeConna said.
The Humane Society initially pushed fostering to reduce the number of animals in the shelter, DeConna said, so more staff could shelter in place and work with less exposure to the public.
The Humane Society was still taking in animals that needed to be returned, and a rush of new kittens.
During the spring and summer, the number of unsterilized community cats or outdoor cats rises. This period, which usually lasts from March to November in Florida, is known as kitten season. Puppies contribute to the influx of animals as well.
“We see a large increase in uptakes at the time when these animals are most vulnerable in a shelter,” DeConna said. “Our goal then is to keep them out of shelters. We do that by offering our low-cost spay and neuter services year-round.”