Animal Shelter Emergency Intake Shutdown

Press release from Alachua County

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Due to crisis-level overcrowding and low staffing levels, the Alachua County Animal Resources and Care (AR&C) Shelter will immediately cease taking both owner surrenders and healthy, free-roaming animals. This temporary closure will be in place until the animal population aligns with the shelter’s capacity for care. The shutdown will allow staff time to work with the animals in their care to assess their behavior and match them with adopters. It will also allow staff the time to focus on foster care and continue working with rescue partners to assist in transfers. 

“I am ordering this shutdown for the sake of the animals and our staff. We are seeing nationwide staffing shortages, and unfortunately, Alachua County is not immune,” Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman said. “Working at the animal shelter, particularly when severely overcrowded, is physically and emotionally exhausting for existing staff doing their best to take care of the animals.”

“I fully support the Manager’s decision. The number of animals at the shelter exceeds the staff’s capacity to provide humane care,” said Alachua County Commission Chair Marihelen Wheeler. “The overcrowding crisis must be addressed for the welfare of the animals and the health of our dedicated staff.”

“I support this action. Shelters nationwide are challenged by too many animals, understaffing, and inadequate space,” explained Dr. Cynda Crawford, the Director of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “For many shelters, we have utilized this temporary emergency shutdown strategy to focus shelter resources on community placements of the animals in their care. This strategy has successfully returned shelters to a more balanced state, resulting in good animal care and staff welfare.”

The shelter will remain open to the public for adoptions and reclaims. The Animal Resource Officers will continue to respond to calls from the community concerning public safety. Residents should call 911 in the event of an emergency. The shelter staff will still be available to assist animals (brought in by bystanders, not owners) needing immediate veterinary treatment. 

If you find a free-roaming pet and choose to get involved, please attempt to locate the owner. Here are some tips for reuniting pets with their owners: 

  • Think LOST, not STRAY.  Many animals never return home because the finder assumes the animal has been abandoned or dumped when the animal has just accidentally gotten out.
  • Their owner may be frantically looking for their pet but doesn’t know the best way to go about it. Pets that have been out for even a short time may start to look neglected and may appear frightened or skittish, giving the impression that they were abused or abandoned.
  • Secure the pet, look for any injuries, and provide water. Note the exact location you found the pet. If possible, walk the pet around the neighborhood, asking others if they recognize it.
  • Check for an identifying rabies tag or name tag. Call and text the owners OR call AR&C with the rabies tag number.
  • Check for a microchip at any vet clinic.
  • Take a photo of the pet in good lighting. Get a front-on nose shot that shows the pet’s face and complete a “Found Pet” form on https://24petconnect.com/.
  • After filling out the “Found Pet” form, please also post the found pet on your neighborhood and local lost and found social media pages.
  • Gainesville Pet Finder is one of Alachua County’s main Lost and Found Facebook groups, along with https://NextDoor.com, where you can post specific to your neighborhood.
  • Do not mention gender or collar details. Remember, the goal is to locate the owner, not re-home the pet immediately. If you are contacted by another person directly claiming to be the owner, ask for proof of ownership before returning the pet. If you aren’t sure what to do, contact AR&C for assistance.
  • Post signs in the neighborhood. Include a photo and your contact info. 

Alachua County Animal Resources and Care is grateful for the community’s support and understanding during this temporary shutdown, and we will alert the public when the shutdown is lifted.

  • Besides shuting down what are you doing to address the needs of animals turned away ?

  • The county has more important things to worry about like being a nationwide magnet homeless shelter for the hundreds of vagrants, drifters, drunks/drug addicts, unstable mental patients, and old pedophiles that we read about every day in the crime stories here. We can’t afford to have a dog pound anymore, so we’ll just have packs of wild dogs. Pretty soon they’ll be putting out recommendations for how to put out your own fires or drive yourself to the hospital when you’re having a heart attack. Unlike our super-beta mayor, I couldn’t care less if a publication declares “Gainesville is Hateful to the Homeless.” That was why all of this Grace Marketplace foolishness got started – a statement in some magazine or newspaper and soft-in-the-head “leaders.”

    • Well said Peabody….They should do the same with Grace Marketplace until
      They get the street panhandling under control….whatever argument they are using to shut down the animal shelter is the same for Grace….
      Send the vagrant humans, pedophiles, criminals, &
      Drug addicts back to where they came from. I’m sure
      The community chest can find the money to send homeless miscreants back to their friends, family, & church where they came from…Are they going to stop
      Putting criminals in jail to because that’s overcrowded…
      Maybe it’s time to expand the animal shelter and double
      The size of the jail. Grace we should just close down because “build it and they will come”…I like cats & dogs
      Better than humans…

  • What’s about those American Rescue Plan funds (ARPA)? they want to use that to house the homeless…
    They can expand the animal shelter and double the
    Size of the jail…consolidate the jail with homeless services and have a mental wing and the drug addict wing right there…” a one stop shop for criminals, homeless, addicts, & mental patients”…building
    This new jail will also create good paying jobs…
    Win, win and we lower our carbon footprint with
    The efficiency in public services…we can do all this
    And help stop climate change.

  • Too bad they can’t shut down Gainesville’s vagrant intake as easily.

    Wait, that’s Alachua County’s intake as well.

    When will taxpayers demand the city and county stop feeding the cats?

    • We need operation “catnip” so the vagrant population
      Doesn’t multiply.

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