When Kathryn Davis met Abbey, a white and black English Pointer with three dotted circles along her back, she felt as though a string of fate had brought them together.
Abbey was found wandering the streets of the Panhandle, pregnant with 12 puppies out of which nine of which survived. Called “Pia” at the time of her adoption, Davis renamed Abbey after her favorite Beatles album, “Abbey Road.”
Abbey and Davis were first introduced at Petsmart after Davis, a 58-year-old Gainesville resident, chose Abbey from Faithful Friends Pet Rescue and Rehoming a few weeks prior.
The adoption came six weeks after Davis’ last English Pointer, Sophie, passed away. Davis said in the aftermath of her death, the silence was deafening.
“I decided that I was so devastated after my last one passed that I wanted to take some time,” she said. “But it didn’t take that long before I was like, ‘I’m not thriving.’”
When they met, Abbey bounded over to Davis and lept onto her shoulders.
“I felt like it was like a hug,” she said. “And it was immediate.”
Just like Abbey, more pets from Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue and Faithful Friends Pet Rescue and Rehoming have found families in recent weeks. However, these increased adoption rates have not come without substantial change.
Before COVID-19, the shelter held adoption events every Saturday at Petsmart. Now, adoptions are processed one at a time with as few people as possible at a prearranged location. To prevent contact, all payments and medical records are handled online.
Foster parents who house the animals until they find a permanent home receive supplies like food, a bed and cat litter outside their homes rather than picking them up.
According to Lillian Richards, a 20-year-old Gainesville resident and secretary at Faithful Friends, more animals are being fostered.
“There has been a surge in foster applications because with people home because their school has moved online or they’re now working from home, they have the ability to now,” she said.
This week, two dogs and a handful of cats at Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue already have foster families ready to pick them up.
“I feel that more people are stepping up to foster,” Jessica Mestas, a 21-year-old adoption counselor, said. “So we’ll have no animals in the rescue, which allows us to save and pull more animals into the rescue and just find them foster homes.”
Currently, dog adoptions are up, but cat adoptions have decreased.
“Usually if you go looking for a cat, you kind of meet a couple and just find one that you like,” Mestas said. “You don’t really fall in love with their picture. So I feel like adoptions are kind of taking a hit, but our dog adoptions are doing wonderful.”
Despite the increase in adoptions, the animal shelter is struggling financially. Every April, Haile’s Angels participates in The Amazing Give, a platform that raises money for nonprofits in North Central Florida. The event has been canceled and will result in an estimated loss of $20,000 for the shelter.
“Funds and fundraising are definitely taking a hit right now as well because there’s not a lot of people at work, so not a lot of people are able to donate money,” she said.
Despite losses, the pets are still managing to find homes.
For Davis, who lives alone, her dogs, including Abbey, have been a source of warmth in these cold and lonely times.
“You see them when you come through the door, and you’re so happy to see them,” Davis said. "They love you no matter what.”
Contact Katie Delk at email@example.com. Follow Katie on Twitter @katie_delk.
Kathryn Davis and Abbey pose for a picture after being united by Faithful Friends Pet Rescue and Rehoming. Many Gainesville animal shelters have seen an increase in adoptions amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Katie Delk is a sophomore with a journalism major and an anthropology minor. For the Avenue, she writes about music, culture and the environment. When she is not writing, she is outside with the trees, reading a fantasy book or listening to Beach House.