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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Alachua County, FL

Alachua County is located in north central Florida. The county contains the city of Gainesville, which has a population of about 124,000, and several small towns, including High Springs, Newberry, and the town of Alachua. The combined population of the city and county is about 247,000.

Animal control, stray intake, and intake of owner surrenders is performed for the county by a municipal agency, Alachua County Animal Services. I verified in a phonecall to the shelter that it serves the entire population of Alachua County, including Gainesville and the towns in the county. I was told that the shelter accepts owner surrenders from county residents with no conditions, except for a small fee for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals.

The shelter works with a coalition of five local non-profits — the Alachua County Humane Society (a member of the Million Cat Challenge), Helping Hands Pet Rescue, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Puppy Hill Farm, and Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue. Another important non-profit in Alachua County is No More Homeless Pets, which has a low-income spay-neuter program called Operation Petsnip. The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has a program, Operation Catnip, that does TNR for feral and unowned cats. Veterinarians at the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine program, including Dr. Julie Levy, have been working with Alachua County shelters for years. Last but not least, the Wagmore Foundation has provided assistance.

The shelter and its rescue partners have reported to the media that they achieved an 86% live release rate for 2014. (The media report did not contain full statistics.) Over 850 dogs and cats were adopted in a 2-day Maddie’s Fund adoption event in 2014, and almost 1500 were adopted out during the 3-month ASPCA Rachel Ray Challenge. Operation Petsnip sterilized over 4000 dogs and cats and Operation Catnip sterilized more than 2100 cats. The shelter is going to try for 90% in 2015. It is planning to hire a pet-retention specialist, and is mulling over some admission changes.

Maddie’s Fund sponsored a project in Alachua County from 2002 to 2009 to help the coalition bring up the county’s live release rate, which was only 29% in the year 2000. The Maddie’s Fund project formally ended in 2009, but the coalition members continued to work together and the project collected statistics through mid-2013. The most recent full statistics posted by Maddie’s Fund for the coalition were for calendar year 2011, where the live release rate was approximately 70% with an intake of about 9600 animals.

Alachua County, FL, is counted in the Running Totals as an 80%+ community.

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