County animal shelters often are referred to as “the pound” or as “doggy jail.” This is an outdated stereotype that municipal shelters are not good places to find your next pet companion.
Alachua County Animal Services (ACAS) has worked hard to try to dispel these old views. As Alachua County’s community shelter, we want you to consider ACAS as your next spot to adopt.
We work closely with other county departments to improve our community’s shelter. With the help of Human Resources, we were able to fill two critical positions, our shelter veterinarian and field operations supervisor. With the help of the County Attorney’s Office, we added another section to the animal services ordinance entitled Pet Breeder Regulations. And we are working with Facilities to improve our current facility.
It’s our goal is to continue to make operational improvements and implement departmental policies and procedures that will not only raise the quality of care for our animals and the quality of service to our citizens, but also increase productivity and efficiency. In addition, we are working with Parks to create walking trails through the woods surrounding our facility that may one day tie into the public walking trails in the Buck Bay Flatwoods Preserve. We are excited that volunteers will have a walking path to give our dogs a nice, relaxing walk through the woods.
We took in and provided care for 2,633 lost, homeless, abused or abandoned animals in 2020 and 3,696 in 2019. In addition, we responded to 9,434 calls for field services in 2020 and 9,941 in 2019. Last year we maintained a greater than or equal to 90% live release rate for the fourth consecutive year, even in the face of a pandemic. We work to make sure that all animals leave ACAS to a happy home.
A lot of animals arrive at our facility in need of a little extra TLC — skin conditions and allergies, or more serious injuries that require amputations — and we provide them with quality veterinary care. We have helped more dogs than ever with heartworm disease, and this year so far, 71 dogs have already benefited from heartworm treatment.
Many shelters do not have the money or resources to provide such care, and we are proud of these numbers. We also have our continued partnership with the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and its shelter medicine clerkship to help provide care and help train the next generation of veterinarians.
Dogs Playing for Life, a national program based at the Canine Center in Live Oak, trained our staff and volunteers to safely and effectively match dogs based on their play styles, put larger groups of dogs together for exercise and socialization, and utilize these sessions to evaluate and improve canine behaviors. Our social media helps us showcase that the dogs and cats in our care are not in “doggy jail” but instead are here with us just temporarily as we wait for our community to stop in and adopt.
How can you help our community’s shelter? First, consider adopting at ACAS. Our adoption fees are reasonable: $40 for dogs, $20 for cats. We usually have over 100 adoptable animals at any given time, and in the summer months, our population swells to closer to 200 dogs and cats.
Second, consider volunteering. One popular option for volunteering is to take a pup for a day out — so you can come to the shelter, choose a dog, and take that pup for a walk at Depot Park, lunch at one of Gainesville’s many dog-friendly restaurants or even a nap on your couch.
Third, you can help us spread the word that ACAS is a great place to adopt your next pet for anyone who is looking to add to their family.
Alachua County has always been a community of animal lovers and supporters, and to continue successfully moving forward, ACAS needs your support. Please consider following us on social media, volunteering and adopting from Alachua County Animal Services — Gainesville’s source for shelter pets!
Ed Williams is ACAS director and Amber Emanuel is a volunteer at ACAS.
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