Kya, a 2-year-old mutt waited more than 2 months at Alachua County Animal Services (ACAS), along with many other dogs and cats, to find her forever home. 

On Saturday she met Tyronne and Licia Watson, and she left the shelter with a new family and a new name: Melissa. 

ACAS hosted its annual “Summer Lovin’ Adoptathon” at the shelter Saturday in partnership with the University of Florida’s Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

Joey Fragale, a 23-year-old UF veterinarian student, and executive board member of the club, said the event was part of #ClearTheShelters Day, a nationwide adoption drive initiated by NBC and Telemundo stations to promote local shelters. 

“The dogs are at capacity,” Fragale said. “So, the event is to help avoid the other option, which is euthanasia.” 

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, when the event started, ACAS had over 100 dogs and cats available for adoption. By 8 p.m., ACAS announced on their Facebook page that 74 dogs and 28 cats had been adopted. 

Kaitlyn Drozdowicz, a 24-year-old vet student and executive board member, said there’s a pet for everyone at the shelter, it’s just about finding the right one. 

“We’re making sure we can help people find pets that suit their needs and are informed about the animal they’re getting,” Drozdowicz said. 

The event also included free food and gift baskets from sponsors such as Earth Pets, P.U.P.S. Dog Training, Satchel’s Pizza and others. 

Chris Gomez, a 28-year-old kennel tech at the shelter, said adopters should keep an open mind.

“Don’t come here with preconceived notions,” Gomez said. “Some dogs act differently here at the shelter than they do at home, but you have to give them a chance.”

Gomez added that long-term pets are usually the most overlooked, as there’s an assumption that the dog may have behavior problems if they’ve been at the shelter for a while. 

He said dogs that are heartworm positive are also often overlooked. 

Jeff Hunt, 34, also a kennel tech, said other people are looking only to adopt younger dogs, without thinking of the responsibility. 

“Everyone says a puppy is cute, but they’re a lot of work,” Hunt said. “Older dogs are great, too. They’re usually potty-trained, obedience-trained.”

ACAS volunteer Sam Johnson, 23, said the turnout was better than anticipated. 

“We weren’t expecting too many people with the weather,” Johnson said. “But people are still showing up, it’s been great.”

Tyronne Watson said he was looking for a companion after his beloved 13-year-old Chihuahua, Chico, passed away from organ failure two days earlier. 

He said he knew Melissa was the dog for him from when he first saw her. 

“I think we might’ve made a connection,” he said. “She chose us, we didn’t choose her.”