Adoptathon aims for 100 adopted pets this weekend


A cat available for adoption from Puppy Hill Farm Animal Rescue Friday. Pet adoption vendors are setting up for the Find True Love Adoption at PetSmart in Butler Plaza this weekend.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.

Within 15 minutes, the “Demon Dog” found a new home.

Facts

Adoptathon continues through Sunday

National Adoption Weekend, staged by PetSmart Charities, is holding an adoptathon Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in which it hopes to find forever homes for more than 100 pets. The event is at the Gainesville PetSmart, located in Butler Plaza on Archer Road.

Volunteers were still clipping towels to crates and tying colorful bandanas around canine necks Friday morning when Kirby, known as the “Demon Dog” by his caretakers at Puppy Hill Farm Animal Rescue, was in the arms of his new owner.

The 3-month-old, brown-and-black puppy had been dropped over the fence of the shelter by his owners, which happens occasionally but is discouraged, said Laurie Trenholm, a volunteer with Puppy Hill Farm. He got his nickname from his rambunctious, vocal antics, but he managed to snag volunteers' hearts anyway.

“This morning when he left, they were just about in tears,” Trenholm told Kirby's future owner.

Kirby's adoption helped kick off the Gainesville edition of PetSmart Charities and PetSmart Charities of Canada's National Adoption Weekend, an event hosted in PetSmart stores throughout North America.

Local animal rescues hope to find forever homes for more than 100 pets during the weekend-long event at the Gainesville PetSmart, located in Butler Plaza on Southwest Archer Road.

The adoptathon started Friday and runs through Sunday, lasting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The Gainesville store ranks in the top 10 in pet adoptions among all PetSmart locations, manager Mark Frantz said. It had 2,160 pet adoptions last year and averages about 40 a week.

“That's why I love this — because 2,160 pets is 2,160 pet parents,” he said. People who adopt animals from PetSmart become customers for life, he said.

The store typically reimburses rescue shelters for adoptions made there, but it hiked its per-adoption offer to rescue groups up to $35 for this event. That money helps cover the rescue shelters' pet-related medical fees and other costs.

PetSmart Charities usually gives the store about $5,000 for adoptathons like this, some of which Frantz uses to buy new supplies for one of the participating rescues.

On Friday morning, volunteers lugged crates into position in the large tent in PetSmart's parking lot, where dogs are corralled for the adoption extravaganza, and pushed blue shopping carts piled with cat-filled carriers to the back of the store, where the furry felines are showcased.

Gainesville Rabbit Rescue set up blue and pink wire fences near the center of the store, pinning notices to each one cautioning potential adopters against bringing home an “Easter bunny” as the holiday nears. The perfect Easter bunny, according to the signs, is a stuffed animal.

“They're wonderful pets, but please don't think of them as Easter bunnies,” Executive Director Kathy Finelli said. “This is a 10-year commitment.”

A large albino rabbit named Lita, with white fur and ruby eyes, peered out from her carrier as she waited to be plopped down in one of the fenced-in play areas. Albinos are the hardest to adopt, Finelli said.

Black cats, and even black dogs, are also difficult to adopt, said Jane Vickroy, a volunteer with Puppy Hill Farm. Older animals, too, are less popular than puppies and kittens but just as much in need of a home.

Many of the rescue groups' adoptable pets came from Alachua County Animal Services, which does euthanize animals at its shelter out of necessity but has lowered its euthanasia rate over the years.

The rescue groups are excited to find new owners for their animals, but Trenholm cautioned interested adopters to think through the decision first.

“It's easy to see a cute litter of puppies and say, ‘Oh, I want one,' ” she said. But people should consider the financial and time commitments of owning a pet. When they take home a furry friend, they're promising to share their lives with their new companion for the next 10 to 15 years.

With Kirby the Demon Dog's quick adoption and the Gainesville PetSmart's top 10 ranking, it seems that's a welcome prospect for many local pet lovers.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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