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Friday, September 29, 2023

Local groups hold pet adopt-a-thon with more than 200 animals

As puppies wearing bandannas wriggled around and kittens meowed for attention, onlookers decided if they should add to their families.

Local pet adoption agencies held the Home for the Holidays Adopt-A-Thon at The Oaks Mall this weekend.

About 238 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens were looking for homes. Volunteers walked dogs and cleaned up messes as people cooed into cages.

Puppy Hill Farms volunteer Diana Creaven, 56, said she enjoys watching the dogs get adopted.

Phil Kauth, 27, is another volunteer for Puppy Hill. He got his German shepherd mix at last year's adopt-a-thon.

This year, Kauth said he's seen a lot of enthusiasm in adopters.

Half an hour before the event officially opened for adoptions, a girl stood by a Great Dane's cage to make sure she could adopt him, he said.

Another couple saw a puppy as they were walking in and instantly knew they wanted it, Kauth said.

"They walked right in and picked it up," he said.

Peg Fraser, kennel manager for the Haile Plantation Animal Clinic, said people love puppies but tend to skip over the older dogs.

"They're so often overlooked," Fraser said.

Davida Slobody, a visitor, and her husband walked a Great Dane from Helping Hands Animal Rescue.

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"We generally only look at the big dogs," Slobody said.

She said everyone tends to gravitate toward the little puppies.

Larger dogs aren't easily adopted, she said.

"We come every year to see if we can find an animal that can fit into our herd," Slobody said.

She said they have five dogs, three horses and two cats.

UF graduate student Rachael Watson was volunteering at the event for her interdisciplinary biomedical science program when she found a dog to adopt.

While sitting in the grass with a medium-sized golden dog named Betsy, she made up her mind about adopting.

"She's the cutest dog here," Watson said.

Becky Goodman, the executive director of the Alachua County Humane Society, said there were ten adoptions from their society so far by Saturday afternoon.

"The best thing about this event is watching these animals go home," Goodman said.

The crowd impressed Goodman.

"All our partners are really happy with the number of people who showed up," she said.

Fraser said because of larger crowds, the kennel had to make sure the animals were properly socialized. Some needed recovery from past abuse, neglect and being stuck with animal services for an extended period of time, Fraser said.

They talk to their dogs like individuals and have personal time with them in the play yard, she said.

This interaction makes them more responsive to humans, she said.

"It's like they're going from our family to their family," Fraser said.

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