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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Humane Society of North Central Florida robbed, threatened with gun violence

The nonprofit says the community has helped their team feel supported

After The Humane Society of Alachua County was robbed and employees were threatened, Gainesville gave an outpour of support to the nonprofit organization. 

Residents donated, gifted chocolates and cookies, and praised employees at The Humane Society in Gainesville after they were threatened with gun violence on the morning of Jan. 25 then robbed the next morning after a break-in. 

On Jan. 25, a man was aggressive with the staff and verbally threatened one of the receptionists after a miscommunication, said director of advancement of The Humane Society Margot DeConna. 

The staff called the police shortly after the encounter. 

Gainesville Police Department officers spoke with the man at his home and came back to the no-kill animal rescue shelter to talk to the staff, DeConna said.

The 36-year-old director is thankful for her hard-working staff and that nobody was injured in the interaction.  

“They take a lot of abuse, but this was just a step further,” DeConna said. “If you threaten our staff, we are going to call the police.”

The receptionist plans to press charges against the man who threatened her.

As employees were clocking in on the morning of Jan. 26, they heard noises from the front lobby and went to investigate.

Marguerite Andrich, 19-year-old UF anthropology student and volunteer at The Humane Society, showed up for work that day and walked in through the backdoor like she always does.

“As soon as I walked inside, I saw glass everywhere,” Andrich said. 

Andrich saw blood scattered around the front lobby and noticed the smashed front door. 

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Officers and a few other employees were already at the shelter when Andrich showed up that morning, she said. 

“Fortunately, the police department was able to get a blood sample,” Andrich said. 

Andrich helped clean up the broken glass and front door, concerned about the numerous pets that walk through the front lobby everyday. 

“I vacuumed the entire front lobby four times, and I was still stepping on glass,” Andrich said. “It’s very dangerous.” 

The unknown suspect or suspects stole about $100, and there are no injuries, Glover said. 

“Even though they happened one day apart… they were both separate incidents,” DeConna said. “They were not connected to one another.”

Unfortunately, the shelter’s security cameras were unable to capture the break-in, but with the community’s donations, they plan to improve their cameras and replace the front door. 

The shelter was closed part of Monday for crisis center professionals to talk to the staff and help them process what happened. 

Moving forward, DeConna wants to focus on how to make the staff and pets feel more safe. 

Despite the encounters, the receptionist who was threatened finished her shifts for the week and plans to continue working at The Humane Society after an outpour of support shown by management, coworkers and the community, she told DeConna. 

The Humane Society’s staff is grateful to the public for stepping up after the difficult week.

“The community has donated through our social media pages and through our website,” DeConna said. “They’ve reached out to us, they’ve brought by chocolates and cookies, and that’s been really sweet.”

Since the incidents, customers have donated and frequently expressed their gratitude to the staff, none of whom deserved to go through what they did, especially the animals, Andrich said. 

“I had no idea that the community could rally that quickly and that intensely for a cause,” Andrich said.

Contact Troy Myers at or follow him on Twitter @Troy_Myers1.

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Troy Myers

Troy is the criminal justice reporter and a fourth-year journalism major with an outside focus in business administration. He previously studied accounting for two years at Santa Fe College but has since transferred to UFCJC. When Troy isn’t writing, he enjoys going to the beach and spending time with his dog, identical twin brother and family.

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