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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Orphaned pets find homes at adopt-a-thon

With soggy weather all around, no TV to watch football on and no late-week finals to wait out, Chyanne gathered her belongings and went home earlier than most in Gainesville.

“Going home” is a new concept for Chyanne, who’s been without one all her life, but packing wasn’t terribly challenging. She travels only with a stainless-steel drinking bowl and a piece of crusted rawhide.

On Saturday and Sunday, Maddie’s Pet Rescue Project found a family for Chyanne, a red and white Australian cattle dog, and several dozen other animals during the organization’s Home for the Holidays Adopt-a-thon.

The biannual event offers orphaned pets to local residents on the Oaks Mall south lawn.

“You can judge a community by how it treats its animals,” said Kirk Eppenstein, executive director of the Alachua County Humane Society, “and Gainesville is a compassionate community.”

Adopters exchanged a background-combing, three-page application and a small fee for a new family member courtesy of the ACHS and four other partners of Maddie’s.

Though most of the future pets cost $35 to $100, Brandon Ibarra and Dexter White split a $125 charge from Town & Country Veterinarians to adopt a beagle puppy for a mutual friend.

“I’d hate to name it and have it stick,” said Ibarra, a 20-year-old UF student who got the Christmas gift on a whim. “But I know she’ll love it. She really wants one for her own.”

About 1,000 people attended the event Sunday. The puppies went fast on Saturday as almost 1,000 people had circled their straw-filled pens by 2 p.m., but Jaymi Short, for one, focused on the older dogs.

Short, 17, a volunteer for Puppy Hill Farm Animal Rescue, trolled around with Tamariah, 4, a horse-like Great Dane who was discarded from a moving car as a puppy.

“These aren’t Christmas gifts,” said Short, who owns two boxers, Selina and Sergeant. “They’re perfect for anytime. They’re going to be your best friends.”

According to Michelle Texier, 25, a vet technician with Town & Country, the full-grown animals are the ones most at risk among Gainesville’s overpopulation of strays.

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“Puppies and kittens are adorable; they’re bought on a whim,” Texier said, adding that she wouldn’t trade her 4-year-old mutt, Nalani, for anything.

The shared commitment of people like Texier has translated into a more than yearlong stretch, during which no healthy animal has been euthanized, said Eppenstein.

“Shelter animals know the situation they’re in,” said Jessica Peet, 28, the membership coordinator at ACHS. “They’re more grateful. I really believe that.”

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