When Nathaly Barrantes and Tyson Torchia arrived at the Alachua County Animal Services building Friday to play with a 5-month-old kitten they saw online, it was love at first sight.
The couple was pleasantly surprised to pay less than $15 in adoption fees when they took him home later that day.
“We saw him and were like, ‘He’s so cute. We have to get him,’” said Barrantes, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College biology freshman.
The shelter, located at 3400 NE 53rd Ave., held its Valentine’s Day adoption event from Feb. 9 to Feb. 13, said Nikki Healy, administrative coordinator at Animal Services. Though adoption fees are normally $20 for cats and $40 for dogs, all fees were $14 for both animals during the weeklong event.
The shelter reduced the fees to encourage more people to adopt, she said.
So far, there have been 46 adoptions in February and about 20 during the weeklong event, Healy said. The shelter has seen about an even number of adoptions for dogs and cats.
“Hopefully, this weekend will be like a big bang,” Healy said.
On Jan. 12, the shelter had about 70 dogs and 40 to 50 cats up for adoption, Healy said. Alachua County Animal Services is an open-admissions shelter, which means it accepts any dog or cat that needs a home.
Barrantes said for the past few months, she and her boyfriend were looking to get a cat and finally decided to go to the shelter after seeing the kitten on the shelter’s website. The couple was unaware of the Valentine’s Day promotion.
“As soon as he saw us, he was purring, and he instantly started playing with us,” Torchia, a 20-year-old Gainesville resident, said.
The kitten, a barnyard tabby, was named Finch by the shelter, but the couple renamed him Silas. They plan for him to live as an indoor cat at their Gainesville apartment along with their Shih Tzu, Leo.
The shelter holds events and promotions as often as it can, Healy said. This past winter, it held a Grinch-themed event with free adoptions.
However, the shelter discourages giving animals as gifts and hope all future owners will come in and interact with their animals before choosing to adopt, she said.
Amy Dunn is an Alligator contributing writer.