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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Animal shelter to give free adoptions for national contest

Alachua County Animal Services will have free adoptions for the next week.

The $100K Challenge, sponsored by celebrity chef Rachael Ray and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, invites shelters nationwide to compete for the most free adoptions in return for cash prizes, depending on staff size and capacity.

Nine other shelters are in the same division as Alachua County Animal Services. Since the shelter began participating in June, more than 1,000 animals have been adopted.

“Right now we’re tied for second or close to second,” said director Vernon Sawyer.

Sawyer said if the shelter wins money, the funds will go toward new dog toys, expanded play areas and increased community awareness about pet adoption.

Throughout the past 10 years, Sawyer said the shelter has increased its adoptions by about 90 percent. A portion of those saved lives are due to the numerous rescue organizations in Gainesville, such as the Alachua County Humane Society.

The Humane Society’s director, Amanda Burks, said the organization has been working with the shelter for the past 13 years. Staff members adopt animals that are at risk of being put down.

“We normally get about 50 each month from animal services,” Burks said. “The majority — about 90 percent or more — are pulled from their euthanasia list.”

As adoption rates soar, euthanasia among animals declines, said Burks, who attributes the shelter’s success to organizations like No More Homeless Pets and Operation Catnip. Both groups work to spay and neuter pets and feral cats.

Alachua County Animal Services is also up for a $25,000 community involvement award, and the winner is determined by social media votes. Sawyer said locals can vote at

“We adopted out about 100 animals this weekend, but there was a day a couple months ago where we got 70 animals in one day,” Sawyer said. “Five, six, seven years ago we were euthanizing quite a bit of animals. We’ve worked our butts off not to.”

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 8/26/2014 under the headline "Animal shelter to give free adoptions for national contest"]

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